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Jo Carr-West comments in Bloomberg on how cryptocurrency is impacting divorce settlements

  • February 26, 2018
  • By Jo Carr-West, Partner

Bitcoin Bitterness Starts to Make Messy Divorces Even Worse

Divorces are messy, and cryptocurrencies are helping to make them a whole lot more so.

Virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are a new challenge for lawyers, plagued with volatility and secrecy that is extending the already painful process of dividing a couple’s assets.

The rising popularity of Bitcoin — and for a while at least, its rising value — means more separations involve the currency, which is difficult to trace and hard to value. Although parties have a duty to provide full disclosure of their assets in a divorce, the anonymous nature of cryptocurrencies potentially make them a safe haven for spouses wishing to hide their money from a warring partner.

If one side decides not to disclose or provide evidence of their holdings, the divorce process becomes more expensive and time-consuming, and could result in the partner failing to get a fair share of assets. This can amount to a lot of money in the U.K., which has a reputation of being a more sympathetic place to play out high-stakes divorces, because judges generally order a 50-50 split of assets, giving equal weight to the work of a wealth creator and a partner.

“It’s creating another layer of distrust that we haven’t had to deal with before,” Jo Carr-West, a partner at London-based Hunters, said in an interview. “The public perception that there is a lack of a paper trail causes the anxiety.”

This article was originally published in Bloomberg Technology and can be accessed here.

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