Stocks and Stock Options as Marital Assets

New Jersey High-Asset Divorce Attorney

More complicated assets to valuate in the division of marital assets are stock units and stock options. With nearly 30 years of experience, I am able to assist my wealthy clients with even the most complex property matters. Contact the Somerset County Law Offices of Leonard A. Weitzman, LLC to schedule an initial consultation.

Complex Stocks and Restrictions

Many times companies will compensate employees with grants of stocks, restricted stocks, stock options or restricted stock options. These grants will often have certain restrictions, in which case they are referred to as Restricted Stock Units or Restricted Stock Options. The restriction often prevents the employee from selling the stock, or exercising a stock option, until some future time. In a divorce situation it is critical to have an attorney who fully understands this potentially complex form of compensation.

Many people falsely assume a Restricted Stock Option has no value. For instance, the Restricted Stock Option may allow the employee to purchase a stock at a strike price (specific value) at some time in the future. Usually we do not know what the stock will be worth in the future. If it is below the strike price, the option is worthless. If it is above the strike price, it may have substantial value. I can fully explain to you how we protect you going through a marriage dissolution to make sure any fair value of Restricted Stock Options are properly considered and distributed.

Similarly, if you have been awarded Restricted Stock Units or Restricted Stock Options, your lawyer should have a thorough understanding of how such assets can be protected from equitable division. Simply because they were awarded during the marriage does not mean that they are equally divisible at the time of divorce. Often the restriction on the stocks or the stock options requires you to work and be working at the time the restrictions are removed. It can be argued that these restrictions are often in place to ensure future continued employment, as opposed to compensation for past employment. We can apply various valuation formulas to best protect your interest.

It is important that your divorce attorney has a complete working knowledge of the many ways to value Restricted Stock Units or Restricted Stock Options, and be able to formulate the best possible arguments for your benefit. This is true whether you are seeking distribution of those assets or are looking to preserve and protect them in a divorce. I regularly represent people where RSU's or RSO's are at issue in a divorce. Many lawyers simply do not have cases involving these types of assets and are not familiar with the required complex distribution procedures. I will help you develop the best possible strategies regarding the distribution or protection of these types of assets.

Contact an Experienced Somerset County Divorce Attorney

Contact me, Leonard Weitzman, today. I can guide you through all issues related to stocks and property division. Call (908) 458-9098 to set up your initial consultation.