At Silk Family Law, an increasing amount of our cases involve cryptocurrency assets. In the vast majority of divorces, the parties are expected to provide reciprocal full and frank financial disclosure on a statement known as a ‘Form E’. This details a spouse’s financial circumstances with supporting evidence.
As a digital asset, cryptocurrency should be disclosed alongside other assets in divorce proceedings such as property, cash, or shares. It constitutes an asset that the Family Court can make orders against.
Is my partner hiding cryptocurrency during divorce?
The dramatic rise of cryptocurrency and associated growth of digital currency market values has led to some spouses hiding those digital assets during divorce settlements.
Whilst older cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum are well known and may be easier to track, there are many other, more anonymous cryptocurrencies which present significant challenges and can easily be concealed.
Control of a crypto asset lies with anyone in possession of the private key. Rather like a hard drive, this key acts as a security pass that enables access to information about the assets held.
One of the challenges with cryptocurrency is that it can quickly change hands and fluctuate in value. The currency has no physical presence or central register of ownership, so it is important to understand what they are and the amount which is held.
How we find hidden cryptocurrency assets
The first step is to establish whether a spouse holds or has previously held crypto currency and if so, to obtain confirmation of the specific wallet address. This should enable the forensic experts to follow transactions from the point of purchase through as many wallet addresses as needed, to include the value of each transaction and any attribution data on the counterparties involved. This allows us to follow the money trail and uncover what has really been going on behind the cryptocurrency transactions.
If it is not possible to obtain a wallet address, a spouse’s bank statements, or credit card statements can be checked for any transfer activity or deposits into exchanges. Entries linked to a cryptocurrency exchange (used for trading coins) or a cryptocurrency ATM (which converts money into cryptocurrency) can also be tracked.
There may even be records of cryptocurrency income on past tax returns. This may provide the investigators with sufficient information to sift through the entire blockchain to pinpoint transactions, including the times/dates and values.
This is a very complex and fast-moving area and spouses need to weigh up the cost and advantages before embarking on a cryptocurrency hunt, but for those cases where significant amounts of money are believed to have been invested in crypto assets and there is the risk of assets being hidden then it is worth the investigation.
Experts who can help find cryptocurrency assets during a divorce
Silk Family Law have formulated strong relationships with the likes of Blockchain Intelligence Group who operate in the crypto space and have the tools to track down suspected hidden Bitcoin and other crypto currency in divorce cases.
There is also the question of what happens to cryptocurrency when it comes to the family’s assets being divided or distributed. There are a number of practical complexities and challenges unique to crypto assets which can be hard to understand or navigate. In this regard, Silk Family Law are able to work alongside other crypto advisory services to help our clients understand the asset valuations, how they might be liquidated and distributed to ensure this is actioned correctly and in accordance with legal protocols.
If you would like to understand how your cryptocurrency assets and investments may affect your divorce or family law case, or you have concerns about hidden assets, please feel free to give me a call on 07593 583785 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blog post by associate Matthew Miles. Matthew specialises in all areas of family law, in particular the resolution of complex financial cases.
Image credits: André François McKenzie and Cardmapr on Unsplash