The question of what is divisible in divorce should really be, what is not? Anything that counts as a possession you shared during the marriage could be defined as marital property and might be subject to property division in divorce.
It is not big news that you have to divide your retirement accounts, 401Ks, savings, investments, and real estate in divorce. It may be more surprising that there are many personal items and digital assets that could be up for grabs too. Sometimes the less high value assets, or assets with sentimental value can be the ones that are more difficult to divide. You should also be aware that collector’s items or digital assets might have significant value that should not be left on the table.
To avoid getting a shock when your spouse’s attorney gets in touch about your music collection, here are six unexpected assets to be mindful of when you are dividing property in divorce:
- Digital downloads, music, movies, and streaming accounts – Music, movies, e-books, and any media stored in a digital format are defined as digital assets. Some of these assets can be divided by being duplicated, but in many cases only one person has the rights to them. This is true for music downloaded from a streaming service or e-books available on a device like a Kindle. If you have a substantial collection that you both enjoy, and the files cannot be duplicated, the cost of replacing them should be factored into your property division. Streaming accounts should be transferred into the name of the person paying for them.
- Season tickets and personal seat licenses – Season tickets may be in high demand and the waiting list can be long. This is one reason divorcing spouses often choose to hold on to the season tickets in divorce and divide them 50/50. Options can range from spouses alternating every other game, or every other season. If one spouse is thinking about buying out the other spouse for the rights to the season tickets, or if you are thinking about selling them, this can be more complicated, and you need a divorce attorney to help you understand how to value the tickets and how to sell them. Some teams allow you to sell season tickets or personal seat licenses. The value of the season tickets can vary depending on the fortunes of the team and the desirability of the licensed seats, so a spouse who holds on to season tickets that have a high resale value could be gaining a valuable asset, and the other spouse needs to be compensated.
- Frequent Flyer Miles and Hotel Points – If you have stacked up travel rewards during your marriage, such as frequent flier miles or hotel rewards points, even if the points are in one person’s name, they may be divisible as marital property. Some airlines and credit cards allow you to transfer the points so you can split them up. Sometimes it is easier to assign a dollar value to the points and compensate the spouse who is sacrificing the travel points. Some divorcing couples may even agree to hold on to travel points so they can use them to take their children on vacation.
- Personal collections, such as guitars, LPs, wine, artwork, comic books or toys. It is more obvious when some collections like fine art are valuable. For some connoisseurs, wine collections, musical instruments or even videogames and retro toys can be valuable. Never underestimate the value of collectibles. Toys like cabbage patch kids, original Star Wars action figures, and beanie babies can fetch hundreds or thousands of dollars each. Assessing the price of these items may be the easy part – the hard part is when one spouse wants to keep the collection. Spouses with valuable collections may have to pay a high premium to the other spouse for the privilege of holding on to their collection.
- Valuable digital assets like NFTs, cryptocurrency, in-game assets, a website, blog, or a domain name Many people hold digital assets that have a financial value. These can range from cryptocurrency to assets that are more difficult to value like an Instagram account, domain name, website or blog shared by spouses. NFTs are a category of digital asset like cryptocurrency, and many digital artists “tokenize” their art to make it more valuable to collectors. People can even possess digital real estate in the “metaverse” or in-game assets. It is important to be very careful about the valuation and division of these assets, as digital assets, especially cryptocurrency, can be extremely volatile. Dividing digital assets can be complex. A highly experienced Massachusetts Divorce Attorney can help you with the valuation and division of these assets, where timing could be a critical factor.
- Tax Refunds If you receive a tax refund in the year after you divorce you might assume it will not be part of your divorce, but tax refunds count as part of marital property if they apply to income earned during the marriage. Some divorcing couples with similar incomes agree to walk away with their individual tax refunds, but if one spouse earns a lot more than the other, the tax refund will need to be factored into the property division.
If you are getting a divorce and you are not sure whether any portion of your property will be subject to division, you should start by assuming that it will. It is a good idea to talk to an experienced Massachusetts Divorce Attorney as soon as possible to discuss the implications of dividing any assets such as collectibles or digital assets. At Amaral & Associates P.C., we are here to guide you through all aspects of your divorce, including even the most unexpected parts of property division. Please contact our divorce attorneys to learn more about how we can assist you with your Massachusetts divorce.