Divorcing couples will face complex financial negotiations when attempting to divide assets and debts at the end of a marriage. From getting a family business properly valued to determining who’s responsible for paying off lingering medical debt, financial matters are a sticking point for many couples. Unfortunately, the digital age has increased the complexity by making online assets easy to acquire and share. What happens, though, when these digital assets must be split?
Digital assets represent an important part of an individual’s daily life. While the list is ever-growing, digital assets generally fall into one of four separate categories:
- Online payment services and marketplaces: More and more people rely on payment services such as PayPal, Zelle or Venmo to transfer money and complete a transaction. Additionally, online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon or Etsy provide a transactional outlet for people. An individual’s profile benefits from customer reviews, positive experiences and a successful history. The account could provide benefits to either spouse after a divorce.
- Online rewards programs: The online marketplace is crowded and competitive. Sellers offer numerous rewards for returning customers and beneficial membership clubs. From a cash-back bonus to airline miles, these rewards quickly grow in value the more one shops online.
- Social networking: Married individuals typically cultivate a following of friends, co-workers and family members through various online portals. From sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to a personal blog on a custom website, it can be challenging to remove one party and turn ownership completely over to the other.
- Digital media collections: In the past, this might have only meant vacation photos. Now, however, a collection of entertainment media can span books, movies, music and video games. Over the course of a marriage, these collections might represent thousands of dollars in value.
Couples must carefully list these assets when preparing to divorce. Dividing online assets can be challenging and is best accomplished while also examining other financial elements such as real property (like the family home or cars) and debts (like a shared credit card or home renovation). Only by taking into account the larger financial picture can couples truly reach an equitable split of their digital assets.