Law Office of Stephen W. Penn and Associates

Using Bitcoin to hide assets during a divorce

At the Law Office of Stephen W Penn and Associates, we know that there is nothing new about greedy or vindictive California spouses attempting to hide assets during a divorce. This has been going on for decades. What is new, however, is the way in which asset-hiding spouses can now do it. As with everything else in the age of technology, asset hiding also has entered the digital world.

As explains, Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies are a new form of money. People can buy them, sell them, invest in them, use them to purchase many goods and services, and easily hide them from suspicious spouses. Since they are "virtual money," they do not exist as paper currencies or metal coins. Instead, they exist only as entries in computer files.

If you and your spouse are in the process of divorce and you suspect that (s)he is hiding assets, you should educate yourself about cryptocurrencies and the way in which they work. For instance, you should know that Bitcoin is not the only one even though it is the most popular. At least four other types currently exist as follows:

  1. Litecoin
  2. Ripple
  3. Monero
  4. Ethereum

Buying Bitcoins

Your spouse can easily buy Bitcoins online. All (s)he needs to do is search for Bitcoin exchanges, find one (s)he likes, and set up an account using nothing more than his or her email, gmail, etc. account. Technically (s)he must also link the account to his or her bank account, debit card or credit card, but this applies only to U.S. accounts and not all of them. In other words, cryptocurrency accounts are virtually anonymous.

Additionally, there are many U.S. exchanges that allow your spouse to buy his or her Bitcoins for cash that (s)he withdraws from one of the many Bitcoin ATMs located throughout the country. Once (s)he deposits the cash in the seller's branch bank account, the seller then places the Bitcoin(s) in your spouse's Bitcoin wallet.

Bitcoin wallets

Yes, Bitcoins are stored in wallets, but again, virtual wallets, not actual ones. A "wallet" is simply a computer file that your spouse can place on his or her PC, laptop, tablet, external hard drive, thumb drive, or even cellphone. Regardless of whether or not you have access to all of these devices, it is difficult at best to discover a specific file among the thousands that are there, especially when you do not know what you are looking for. Needless to say, savvy Bitcoin owners never give their wallet(s) an intuitive filename.

For more information on this subject, please visit this page of our website. 


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  • SCBA | Santa Clara County Bar Association | EST 1917
  • State Bar Of California | California Board Of Legal Specialization | Stephen W. Penn
  • Henry P. Collada Memorial Award 2012