Dividing Stock Options and Other Complex Assets in Divorce

Divorce brings up a lot of uncomfortable emotions, but the truth is that by the time most couples have decided to end their marriage, a lot of the most painful emotional work has been done. As many Texas residents who have been through the process can attest, the divorce process itself is largely one of negotiating about monetary matters.

High asset couples tend to own a lot of assets such as retirement accounts and investment portfolios which can be very difficult to divide. For that reason high asset divorce is often much more time-consuming that divorce for middle-income people.

Some of the assets that bring the most difficulty to divorces are stock options and private stock. Both are common pieces of the compensation package for executives, especially in startup companies. A stock option typically gives the employee an option to purchase shares of the company at a set price at some later date. Private stock is typically given to the employee, but cannot be sold until the employee has been with the company for a specified length of time, or until some other condition has been met.

These assets can bring a lot of money to their owners should the company’s share price go up, but on their face they might not be worth very much at the time of the divorce. For this reason, they can be very difficult to handle fairly during the property division process. A Texas attorney with experience in high asset divorce can help clients to know what to look for during the property division process and help them to get the full value they deserve.

Source: Forbes.com, “Dividing Stock Options And Restricted Stock In Divorce,” Jeff Landers, March 19, 2014

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