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Dividing the Cloud: Addressing Virtual Assets During Divorce

As a community property state, divorcing couples in Texas make agreements about dividing their property in a fair manner, or the courts make the decision for them. In many divorce matters, property division can become as divisive as child custody issues. With the mainstream use of cloud storage and virtual assets, property division has literally taken on a whole new dimension.

With the introduction of new apps and mobile services, the possibility of significant online investment is real. Consider these types of virtual assets:

  • iTunes, Facebook and other social media: Cataloging a music account is easier than dividing it. Who gets the music? Who takes control of a joint Facebook account? What about photographs stored and shared online? Who gets the email account and well-known email address?
  • Digital rights: As with music accounts, some virtual products can only be enjoyed online. Digital artwork is a virtual experience, so how will that be valued and awarded during a divorce proceeding?
  • Virtual value: With the rise of parallel worlds in both commerce and fantasy game play, the prospect of holding property and making real money from avatar-type play is serious. Virtual money, awarded in games like Farmville and Second Life, and virtual property, as is available with Planet Calypso, translate to real-world dollars.

With the advent of virtual assets comes the very real ability to hide assets online or transfer them to an alternative currency like Linden dollars in Second Life or into bitcoin currency. High-end sleuthing for assets of the digital marital estate is likely to become far more complicated.

Your best protection at present is knowing what you and your spouse have accumulated. The assignment of digital rights and currency can be dealt with during divorce in Texas — but only if you know the content. Always seek experienced advice when dealing with physical or virtual asset division during divorce.

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Robert Reid McInvale
Attorney at Law

Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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