Divorce Is Messy – Especially When You Own Bitcoin

It ain’t easy owning bitcoin. Back in the day, you could own 50 BTC and nobody cared. But now that the digital currency is actually worth something, everyone wants a piece. Thieves, friends who didn’t listen, the taxman, and, when your marriage breaks down, your spouse. The blockchain might be immutable, but love isn’t. What happens to your bitcoin when you break up?

In most countries, divorce involves an equal division of assets, or at least one that sees both parties walk away with a sizeable chunk. Some assets, like the family dog, can’t easily be split into two, but a bitcoin goes into 100 million parts. What happens to your cryptocurrency when your partner files for divorce? If you thought dying was complicated, you should try getting a divorce.

Divorces don’t happen overnight. Generally they’re the consequence of a gradual breakdown, during which both parties have time to squirrel away assets. That may be immoral (as immoral as the behavior that prompted the divorce), but the practise is as old as marriage itself. Cases abound of husbands pleading poverty by the time the divorce comes to court due to bank accounts that have been mysteriously drained in the months prior, and of wives maxing out credit cards. Now imagine how easy it is for your partner to “give” their bitcoins away to a friend prior to a divorce being finalized.

As we enter an age in which couples’ assets are increasingly digitized and under their own control, dividing them should be simple in theory. Parting with half of one’s cryptocurrency collection doesn’t come easy however. That portfolio may have taken years of careful trading and countless late nights to acquire – exacerbating marital tensions in the process. Progressive males let their wife keep her surname and give up half their crypto come the divorce. Patriarchal oppressors put it all in monero and deny everything.

All joking aside, there is evidence of bitcoin being used to squirrel away assets in anticipation of a divorce. It’s a tactic which the men’s rights movement has supposedly endorsed, and it’s a hard one to counter. If a spouse were to plead that they had gambled away all their cryptocurrency or lost it on a scamcoin, who’s to prove otherwise?

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