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Divorce: Understanding Your Digital Assets

Dividing property during a divorce can be difficult and sometimes contentious. Decisions about dividing material goods like the residence, a vacation home and investment accounts can be particularly difficult with partners who are splitting. But what about the iTunes account?

In New York, property and assets accumulated by a couple during their marriage are considered the marital estate. During divorce, that estate is divided fairly, either by the parties, or by the court prior to the dissolution of their marriage.

Legally, assets held separately are not part of the marital estate, so whoever owned those assets gets to keep them. To be separate, an asset must not, through investment, maintenance or profit, be comingled with marital monies or property. These may include digital assets that are valuable and difficult, if not impossible, to legally transfer during divorce, including:

  • Accounts that accumulate value points like frequent flyer miles, retail rewards or other purchase incentives
  • Accounts for music, photographs, Facebook, Twitter and other goods
  • Assets accumulated from commercial transactions that occur specifically in cyberspace for digital artwork, items or property
  • Substantial assets and virtual property that can be built up by playing games like Second Life and Planet Calypso
  • Alternative currencies like Bitcoin that also provide attractive places to stash cash during a divorce proceeding

Equitable division of property can get complicated when the assets of the marital estate reside in virtual reality.

The best time to assess marital assets is before divorce. In addition to taking stock of physical goods and your finances, know the gaming habits of your partner and how much marital money has gone to purchase music and other virtual pleasures.

If you are considering divorce in New York, understand your assets and seek reputable legal counsel. Se habla español.

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