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Technology helps some hide assets within a divorce

The advancement of technology has touched virtually every aspect of our lives, from the ways that we communicate to the manner in which we learn about the world around us. Unfortunately, there are many negative applications that technology makes possible, including some that can have a significant impact on a Maryland divorce. Many spouses suspect that their husband or wife may be attempting to hide assets during a divorce, and it is important to understand the role that technology can play in doing so.

Some readers will remember the company Bitcoin, which was brought to the attention of many Americans due to an association with illegal activities. Bitcoin is a service that converts wealth into a form of digital currency. Unlike traditional banks or investment accounts, Bitcoin offers users a high degree of anonymity. Bitcoin was the method of payment used by many customers of Silk Road, an online marketplace that facilitated the sale of weapons and drugs. While Silk Road is no longer in operation, Bitcoin thrives as users find value in the lack of oversight or accountability that comes with an account with the company.

For spouses who are attempting to shield assets from the property division portion of a divorce, Bitcoin offers a means of converting money into a digital form. Those funds can then be transferred to the accounts of friends or family, making it very difficult to trace back to the original depositor. For spouses who are unaware that such a service even exists, Bitcoin can be an effective way of hiding assets.

The first step for spouses who suspect the use of technology to shelter marital assets is to gather as much information as possible. Ideally, this process will begin before filing for divorce, which can make it far easier to gain access to the computers and other electronic devices used within the household. A forensic computer expert can examine these devices and extract a wealth of information concerning the online practices of all users. In this way, Maryland spouses can not only gain an awareness of any unscrupulous activity, but can also create a body of evidence that can be put to use in court, if and when necessary.

Source: CNBC, "Bitcoin could be used to hide assets in divorces, warn lawyers", Jane Croft, June 3, 2014

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