Digital assets present a unique set of challenges to family law proceedings. For decades, courts have recognized the value in digital assets like photos and animations. But recent years have seen an explosion in the types and values of digital assets, from cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum to nonfungible tokens (NFTs). As of 2021, it is estimated that 20 million Americans hold cryptocurrencies, a market worth $2 trillion.
Although neither Wisconsin appellate courts nor Wisconsin statutes have expressly considered the unique challenges that digital assets pose to legal proceedings, it is inevitable that the law will have to contend with these novel issues as more people come to recognize and own digital assets. Until the state establishes statutes that specifically address the particularities of digital assets in legal proceedings, attorneys and courts will need to adapt existing practices to this new frontier.
Wis. Stat. §767.127(1) requires parties to furnish full disclosure of all assets in all actions affecting the family. This disclosure must include all financial interests including cryptocurrency, and failure to provide complete disclosure constitutes perjury. A subsequent section, §767.61, addresses the division of property in annulments, divorces, and legal separations. All property–including intangible property like Bitcoin–acquired prior to and during the marriage must be divided.