It would appear that the law and the courts will yet again be fighting to catch up with technology as virtual currencies become a topic in divorce proceedings.

Due to their complex nature and the potential for users to appear anonymous throughout transactions, virtual currencies and cryptocurrencies are often associated with criminal activity. Since its development in 2009, Bitcoin has enjoyed widespread news coverage and has not escaped usage by those involved in unsavoury activities. Although Bitcoin is used legally by many people in transactions and is now an accepted form of payment by many vendors - it remains a valuable route for those who wish to hide their identity or activities.

Where a spouse is not inclined to share their assets equally and fairly, attempts may be made to hide assets or even divest themselves of their property to avoid their other half making a successful claim. It has been suggested that Bitcoin is a system which could be used by a spouse to hide funds in anticipation of divorce proceedings although, at this point, there have not been any reported instances of such actions.

Although Bitcoin can be traded with relative anonymity it is becoming more difficult to remain anonymous when "cashing out" through the well-known trading exchanges. Identification is now required by many organisations before users are given access to the exchange which increases the potential for the identity of users to be traced. Needless to say the resources (complex algorithms and a technology genius to implement them, along with a court order and a savvy solicitor) required to trace an individual's identity through their transactions are not readily available on the high street.

It is inevitable that divorce proceedings which include debates about Bitcoin are on the horizon and virtual currencies and cryptocurrencies should be borne in mind by all parties involved in divorce proceedings.

Jacqueline Stroud is a Family Law Specialist at MacRoberts and can advise on all family law matters. For more information contact

MacRoberts IPTC team have experience in dealing with virtual and crypto currencies and can assist in advising on these matter. For more information contact David Flint 


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