Understanding Digital Assets in Ohio Divorce Proceedings
Divorce can be a complex and emotionally taxing process, and the division of assets often adds to the complexity. In Ohio, like in many other states, the rise of digital assets has introduced a new layer of intricacy to divorce proceedings. Digital assets encompass a wide range of online accounts and properties, such as social media accounts, cryptocurrency investments, digital business interests, online revenue streams, intellectual property, and more.
When it comes to the division of these digital assets in a divorce, Ohio follows an equitable distribution model. This means that assets are not necessarily split 50/50 but rather in a manner that is deemed fair and equitable by the court. The first step in this process is to identify which digital assets are considered marital property and which are separate property.
Identification of Digital Assets
Marital property includes most assets acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Therefore, any digital assets obtained or developed during this time will likely be subject to division. Separate property includes assets owned prior to marriage or received as a gift or inheritance; these are typically not divided.
Valuation of Digital Assets
Once identified as marital property, the next challenge is valuing these digital assets. Unlike traditional assets like real estate or bank accounts, many digital assets do not have a clear market value. For cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, the valuation may be easier due to their presence on exchanges. However, valuing intellectual property or online businesses can be much more complex and usually requires expert appraisal.
Distribution of Digital Assets
The actual distribution of digital assets can be tricky. In some cases, splitting them is impractical or impossible—imagine trying to split a domain name or social media following. Instead, one party might retain the asset while compensating the other party with cash or other property of equivalent value.
An example that illustrates the complexities involved with digital asset division occurred in 2018. In this case, an Ohio couple was involved in a dispute over cryptocurrency investments made during their marriage. The investments had appreciated significantly, and each party had differing opinions on their value and how they should be divided. The court had to consider factors such as the initial investment amounts, fluctuations in market value, and potential future gains.
Protecting Digital Assets
To prevent disputes over digital assets in divorce proceedings, couples may choose to enter into prenuptial agreements that clearly outline how such assets should be handled in the event of divorce. As digital assets continue to grow in prominence, it is likely that Ohio courts will see an increase in cases involving these unique properties.
Navigating the division of digital assets during divorce requires legal expertise. Individuals facing divorce should consult with an attorney who has experience with digital asset division to ensure their interests are adequately represented and protected throughout the process.