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Dispensation of digital assets in a divorce

Colorado residents are spending increasing amounts of time online, creating digital lives and amassing digital assets in the process. Some of these assets might be sentimental in nature, and thus difficult to place a valuation on, while other assets have a real-world value but cannot be easily split between a divorcing couple. In either event, couples increasingly have to decide who gets what digital assets in the case of a divorce.

Digital assets are also playing an increasingly important role in the divorce process itself. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers released a report in March revealing that 80 percent of divorce cases now include social media postings as evidence. In one case, a judge in another state ordered a woman to give her passwords to dating sites over to the court for perusal.

The cost of an online life can be a point of contention when divvying up assets during a divorce. Questions of how to create a valuation for virtual goods purchased during the marriage have begun to arise. These goods may not be cheap either, as the online purchase of a virtual piece of real estate in the game Second life for $100,000 can attest. The real estate was later sold for $600,000 after making the owner more than $200,000 a year. Virtual art can cost in the hundreds, with only one copy available for the couple to contend with. Even a shared account on Twitter can become a matter for contention, with questions of who gets to keep followers when there are methods of monetizing them.

The growing use of digital assets has created a new need for divorcing couples to take a collaborative approach to property division. Tracking down digital accounts can be more difficult than handling traditional banking or investment accounts without the cooperation of both parties in a divorce. Placing a value on digital assets can be a difficult process, but a successful valuation is possible, using the same approaches to valuing digital assets as those used for goods that are tangible

Source: Mashable Lifestyle, "Digital Divorce: Who Gets Which Accounts in the Split?," Margaret Rock, Oct.10, 2012

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