Even before the recent spike in the value of Bitcoins, which caused the media to focus on this cryptocurrency, men’s rights groups have been advocating the use of Bitcoins to hide assets during a divorce. Such groups claim that the courts are bias in favor of women and deprive men of property and other rights during divorce.
Bitcoin transactions are frequently anonymous. This permits one party in a divorce, particularly high assets divorces, to secret some of the couple’s property without a paper trail. Having fewer assets can also impact the amount of spousal support that will be paid.
If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, here are some measures you can take.
1) If your marriage is in trouble and you believe your spouse is planning a divorce, pay particular attention to your finances. Ideally, both spouses should be actively involved in managing finances during the marriage, but frequently there is a division of labor. Look through your financial records and make a list of all the accounts you have. Even when one spouse has been responsible for the family finances, the other spouse has a legal right to examine accounts and tax returns. When possible, look back in the account records and see whether there have been large withdrawals without concurrent deposits into other accounts. If money is just missing, make a special note of this.
2) Be aware of the family expenses. Know how much you are spending each year.
3) Compare the expenses and savings with the amount of family income. Is it roughly equivalent, or is there more income than expenses and savings?
4) Attempt to talk with your spouse about where the money is going.
5) Work with a lawyer who has experience with high asset divorce cases and is knowledgeable about tracking assets.
6) Consider working with an attorney who will work with forensic accounts if there are considerable amounts missing.
7) Retain an attorney who knows how to access computer transactions.
In Michigan, property is divided equitably. This generally means each party receives half of the estate. This is based on the thinking that both parties to the marriage contributed to the accumulation of assets. However, if one party is found to have hidden assets, it’s possible for the judge to award more than half of the hidden asset to the other spouse. In extreme cases, the judge can award 100% of the hidden asset to the other spouse.
Working with experienced professionals and helping them review all of your assets is the key to receiving a just, equitable property settlement.