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Divorce: Property division in the digital age

Dividing assets in a divorce is tough enough as it is. But in an increasingly high-tech age where more and more assets are deemed "virtual," property division for some couples is getting much more complicated.

One compounding factor is that even divorce professionals in Florida and elsewhere can be hard pressed to comprehensively note and valuate all the virtual assets that can be at play in a given divorce dissolution. These can range from digital photos, music collections and phone plans, but are now also expanding into new frontiers, such as iTunes accounts, gaming avatars and cloud-based data storage, among others.

Although a particular divorce and asset division will obviously depend greatly on the degree to which couples kept their belongings separate from one another, it's often a messy split. In cases where couples even shared social media accounts, things can get even more difficult, introducing a new range of conflicts that must be addressed in separation plans and divorce agreements.

And other virtual assets, such as digital currencies specific to certain games and platforms, can also cause headaches. Some of these assets are earned in the course of playing games and are then sold to other users in the real world at a profit.

Since these assets are typically considered community property, their valuation must be factored into the overall split of assets. But determining the specific value of these assets can be tricky. Although it may sound a bit obsessive and even silly to individuals who don't participate in these virtual gaming words, some assets can earn exorbitant values extending into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In more rare cases, some of these digital assets can even serve as income-earning assets, which adds another layer of difficulty to an already complex property division issue.

Source: Mashable Lifestyle, "Digital divorce: Who gets which accounts in the split?" Margaret Rock, Oct. 10, 2012

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