Digital Data Becomes New Asset for Division in Divorce

Dividing digital data in divorce can be difficult

Dividing the digital data in a divorce can be difficult

In any divorce, the division of property may be a contentious issue. But when dividing assets such as houses, cars, bank accounts and other tangible items, family law attorneys in Burleson and Johnson County at least have a map to follow from previous cases. But recent cases have considered a whole new category of property. In a divorce, who gets the digital assets?

While tangible assets like the laptop and the printer may be relatively easy to split up, what about virtual property like Facebook and Twitter and even e-mail accounts? Many couples may share these accounts, with each having a significant interest in data ranging from family photos to financial information. While some divorce cases have used social media to prove allegations of infidelity, there are very few guidelines for family law attorneys giving advice for dividing this type of property.

Some of these assets may seem relatively trivial. If you share a Facebook account, then just unfriend each other and the other spouse's friends and start a new page. But even something as seemingly simple as Facebook can have complications. Some people are obsessed with online games such as Farmville - there have even been deaths blamed on obsessions with the game - and some have invested money in Farmville assets. And while buying a farm implement or livestock on Farmville may be a small investment, other sites have more significant value. One website sells art that can be downloaded with prices up to $600, so if a couple has a virtual art collection, how is it valued and who gets it?

Even more common may be a family business with a Facebook page or a shared website. When a business in Burleson or another place has used a domain in cyberspace for some time, its identity may be linked to it. So if the business assets are divided between the divorcing spouses and one gets ownership of the existing business, should the other spouse be compensated for the loss of the recognized domain?

While currently there is little legal guidance on these issues, as technology advances and more people use it, more courts and maybe even legislatures in Texas and other states will start to address them. Experts may be called into court by family law attorneys to put a value on these assets. In the meantime, couples considering divorce in Texas should take these issues seriously. Professional advice from family law attorneys like Lovelace Killen, P.L.L.C. in Burleson, Texas will be helpful is advising parties on the best way to divide the digital data.

If you have any questions about division of assets in divorce or need legal representation, please call us at 817-349-6106 or fill out the contact form on this page to set an appointment with one of our attorneys for a free consultation.