Managing Digital Assets During a Divorce

Posted on in Division of Assets

digital assets, Wheaton divorce lawyersWhen two people elect to end their marriage through the divorce process, one of the most important issues that must be settled is how the couple will divide their marital property. If you are considering a divorce, you have probably considered questions such as, “Who will keep our home?” and, “Will I get a fair portion of our retirement savings?” In today’s world, however, more couples than ever before also have digital assets in addition to physical property, and it is important to know how digital assets are treated in a divorce.

What Are Digital Assets?

While the term “digital assets” may be unfamiliar to you, you probably own many things that would qualify as digital assets. Digital assets include e-books, electronically stored versions of songs, and downloadable content. Most digital property has no physical representation of the property in question. Consider, for example, music stored in your iTunes library or the apps on your smartphone. They do not exist anywhere else in the physical world, so they are classified as digital assets.

Over the last few decades, video games have largely shifted into the realm of digital assets. It is no longer necessary, in most cases, to buy a video game in physical form—such as a CD/DVD or a cartridge. Some of the most popular games today exist largely online, with the necessary software available by download only. Game services such as Steam also allow players to pay for a digital version of a game even if the game is not intended to be played online.

Allocating Digital Assets

Despite not have a physical representation, a piece of digital property is handled in the same way as any other assets in a divorce. This means that the asset must be categorized as marital or non-marital, given a dollar value, and if it is found to be marital, considered with the other marital assets to be distributed. Obviously, it is all but impossible to divide a digital recording of a song or a video game service account, and it does not really make much sense to split an iTunes library or an e-book collection. This means that value of the digital assets will probably need to be offset by other property.

To illustrate this point, assume that you opened an account with Steam during your marriage and spent $500 on games over several years. During your marriage, you and your partner also shared an iTunes account on which you spent a similar amount of money for music, movies, and apps. It would be fairly reasonable for your marital settlement agreement to give you the entire Steam account and to allow your spouse to have the rights to the contents of the iTunes library.

We Can Help

Accounting for digital assets during a divorce can be complicated, but we can provide assistance. Contact an experienced Wheaton property division attorney to discuss your options. Call 630-871-1002 for a free consultation at Andrew Cores Family Law Group today.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=59

https://mashable.com/2012/10/10/digital-divorce/#2Z_fqNEq4Oqx

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