In MMD v JAH, the question posed was whether a court can order disclosure of unredacted statements of an individual’s cryptocurrency holdings for the purposes of calculating income for child support payments.
The Background of MMD v JAH 2019 ONSC 2
This child support case was stagnant since 2006. Upon learning her husband was “worth millions” in 2017, the applicant sought to return the matter to court for a reassessment of child support. The applicant claimed the respondent’s investments in cryptocurrency valued at about $10 million and asked the court to attribute interest income to this investment in determining the respondent’s income. She requested unredacted statements of his cryptocurrency holdings and also asked he be imputed income based on those amounts.
Upon request to provide the unredacted statements, the respondent informed the court there was a substantial risk as doing so could lead to cyber-attacks and give 3rd parties the potential ability to steal his assets. Additionally, he informed the court that ‘Bitcoin’ accounts are not held by 3rd parties the same way bank accounts are, and therefore he is unable to provide listed transactions akin to bank accounts.
The respondent’s cryptocurrency investments valued at $9,502,416 as of February 8, 2019. When making her decision, the judge noted her lack of expert evidence on the issue and claimed this is a volatile, emerging, intangible source of wealth which the courts will have to grapple with more frequently in future. She found compelling the unredacted documents from the respondent would result in a great risk of prejudice to him because it could compromise the security of his assets. Additionally, she found there is no prejudice to the applicant if she receives the disclosure of the respondent’s cryptocurrency assets in redacted form. The judge ordered all documents pertaining to the respondent’s cryptocurrency investments to be served and filed partially redacted in order to protect the security of the assets.
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