Bitcoin, the electronic currency, could be used by divorcing spouses to hide assets from estranged partners, lawyers have said, as court battles shift their focus to the disclosure of assets.
Divorce settlements in England are seen as particularly generous to ex-wives, because judges recognize the equal contributions made by the breadwinner and the homemaker in a marriage, and divide the assets equally.
Moreover, courts are increasingly having to deal with legal battles brought by one side claiming the other has not made full disclosure of assets and has concealed wealth.
Ayesha Vardag, a London divorce lawyer, has warned that more lawyers may start including digital currencies in financial disclosure orders if there is evidence they have been used.
"They can be used to run a parallel economy," she said. "People will go to immense lengths . . . as a spousal claim is more damaging than tax because it is half your wealth."
Already, a number of forums devoted to Bitcoin discussion have seen husbands exploring the option of using digital currencies, she said.
Bitcoins provide relative anonymity to investors and, unlike bank accounts and share holdings, they are hard to link to an individual.
For this reason, the currency has become a mainstay of illicit transactions, such as through Silk Road, the now-closed online drugs and weapons marketplace.
Although traditional currency holdings – in US dollars or euros for example – might need to be declared as part of the asset disclosure process, parties could try to hide their wealth by converting it to Bitcoins.