How do I account for digital asset during divorce?
Digital assets are a relatively new part of our lives, but they are almost inescapable. These assets can include social media pages, emails, photo storage, security camera accounts and location sharing apps. Because they play such a profound part of our lives, couples should take them into consideration during divorce negotiations.
How are digital assets split during divorce?
The process can be difficult because these assets are not always as clear cut as something more tangible, like a home or even a family business. However, the court may still consider digital assets as marital assets for the purposes of divorce. Once it is considered an asset, the court or negotiating couple can move forward with division discussions.
Applicable law will guide these discussions and the law that guides the divorce process can vary depending on where the divorce takes place. This is because family law matters are subject to the rules of state law. In California, courts will generally consider property acquired during the marriage as marital property subject to division. The state usually requires the couple split all marital assets in half during the divorce. With this in mind, it is likely the court would consider any digital asset acquired or maintained during the marriage as a marital asset.
What can I do to better ensure a fair split?
The first step is to figure out what sort of digital assets you have. Make a list of all shared or joint accounts. Include everything and then figure out if you need to address the asset during the divorce. Some can pose security issues. These can include smart home apps like a Ring doorbell or security systems. Others can impact business, like a website, blog or an eBay or Etsy marketplace page. But even things like Netflix, Wi-Fi and phone passwords may need an update. If you have a large amount of airline miles, e-books, and digitally downloaded albums, you may also want to account for these during the divorce.
If there are digital assets that are important, like a blog or e-book library, be prepared to offer another asset in of similar value.
It is important to note that this is just one of many assets to discuss during a divorce. Other assets that can pose challenges during the divorce include business interests and retirement assets. You can mitigate the risk of any surprises after the divorce is finalized by taking the time to address these assets during divorce negotiations.