Forget the plush pad, wine cellar or luxury car lot – bitcoin is now being fought over by divorcing couples.
Cryptocurrency assets are at the centre of three high value divorce cases for law firm Royds Withy King, but that number expected to grow as digital cash becomes more mainstream.
“These are the first cases we have seen, and we expect to see many more. There will also be those divorces where a spouse may not have disclosed such assets leaving a traceability nightmare," said partner Vandana Chitroda.
Bitcoin, litecoin, ripple and ethereum are the crypto assets owned by the husbands in each of the cases.
In some cases, identifying the cryptocurrencies people own – which could now be worth a significant amount from a small original investment as a result of rising prices – may end up being impossible.
“Tracing cryptocurrencies could be enormously time-consuming and expensive," said another partner at the law firm, Mark Philips.
"This is, of course, much easier if cryptocurrencies are traded via an online investment platform and bought with funds from a bank account, as the original value of the transaction can then be established. When cryptocurrency is purchased directly and moved offline, it becomes almost impossible to trace,” he said.
"… the nature of these currencies make it very easy for one party to hide assets. Unless a spouse discloses an investment in cryptocurrencies, it is entirely possible for them to remain hidden," he continued.
“Parties have a duty to provide full and frank disclosure of their assets during a divorce and if there is no disclosure or evidence of the existence of cryptocurrencies, it will be extremely difficult for a party to receive their fair share of the matrimonial assets."
When cryptocurrencies assets are identified as part of a case, the value must also be adjusted throughout as prices change when it comes to calculating settlements, the law firm said.
The value of bitcoin hit highs of nearly $20,000 late last year. It;s now trading at $9,154 at pixel time, recovering somewhat from a major sell off.