Kane County Attorneys for Stock Options in Divorce
St. Charles Division of Property Lawyers
During the process of divorce, you and your spouse need to determine how your marital property will be divided. If an agreement is not possible, it will be up to the court to decide which of you gets what assets in accordance with considerations set forth in the law. When you think of your marital estate, certain property may come to mind quickly, such as your home, vehicles, household furniture, and retirement accounts. Some couples, however, may have another asset to which little thought has been given over the years but which could potentially be very valuable. One or both spouses may have received employee stock options, and at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., we are prepared to help you understand how they may be handled in divorce.
Illinois Legal Advocates for Complex Financial Matters
As an investment in their employees and as an alternative to cash bonuses, many companies offer their workers stock options. This means that an employee is offered the right to buy company stock at a set price—generally below the expected market value of the stock—at a future date and for a set period of time. Such options can be extremely profitable if the company is growing quickly, but until stock options are exercised it can be nearly impossible to estimate their eventual worth.
The uncertainty of the value of stock options can present significant challenges during a divorce. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, any stock options, reserved stock, or similar benefits acquired by either spouse during the marriage are explicitly considered to be marital property, with the exception of those acquired as a gift or inheritance.
Dividing Stock Options in Divorce
Stock options, like other marital property, must be allocated equitably between the spouses in a divorce. The law, however, recognizes that their actual value may not be discernible at the time of the entry of the judgment for dissolution of marriage. Therefore, the court may use one of two possible approaches. The court may choose to develop a plan for allocating the proceeds of exercising the stock options in advance, or it may reserve the allocation determination until the stock options are exercised and the stock or proceeds are received.
If the first option is chosen the employee spouse to whom stock options were granted holds the options awarded to the receiving spouse in a "constructive trust." The decisions made regarding the exercise of the options contained in the "constructive trust" will be made by the "receiving" spouse and implemented by the employee spouse.
Experienced Divorce Attorneys in the Fox Valley Area
The attorneys at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., recognize the complexity that stock options can add to the divorce process. That is why we are committed to helping you find a reasonable solution that protects your rights and your financial future. We will work closely with you, and employ the assistance of financial experts if necessary to ensure that you receive your fair share of the benefits available through stock options.
To learn more about how our firm can help you through your divorce, contact our St. Charles office. At Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., we offer a free initial consultation so that you can discuss your situation and explore your available options. Call 630-377-7770 today to schedule an appointment. We are proud to serve individuals and families in St. Charles, Elgin, Batavia, Geneva, Aurora, DuPage County, DeKalb County, Kendall County, and Kane County.