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Missouri property division concerning digital assets

The digital age continues to influence people's lives in new and interesting ways. From smart phones to mobile applications and gaming, more and more individuals, including St. Charles, Missouri, residents, are used to technology being a part of everyday life. For that reason, many experts anticipate that the digital age may spur conflicts in the event of a divorce.

According to sources, the digital assets that spouses owned during marriage may need to be resolved through property division. Property division commonly involves bank accounts, real estate, retirement plans and other tangible assets. However, digital assets, such as an iTunes library and computer-related businesses, can be considered marital property and may undergo valuation, particularly in equitable property states, like Missouri.

Equitable property division may divide the digital assets equitably between spouses. The division does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split, but more likely, a reasonable split for both parties after considering each spouse's contribution to the asset.

In some cases, the online assets will be treated the same as other tangible assets, which means that the court does not care which spouse downloaded or built the account during the marriage. Also, the court may take into account the contribution of both spouses to the online business or purchasing the digital product. Transferring the ownership of the digital assets may be a good idea due to the user's agreement. If that happens, one person may obtain the digital assets in exchange for another asset that has the same value.

Property division concerning digital assets may be a minor issue compared with the division of 401(k)s, pension plans and business assets. Regardless, it is a matter that Missouri spouses should be concerned with in the event of a divorce. Whether the online assets have greater or lesser value, it can be considered marital property, which can be equitably divided.

Source: Main Street, "Dividing Digital Assets in Divorce," Susan Johnston, Aug. 21, 2013

Joseph J. Porzenski
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