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  • Nick Burgess

Dividing Assets: How To Split Stocks In A Divorce

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

The following article is for entertainment and educational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. For individual financial advice, please contact a licensed financial professional. Some links below may be affiliate links that generate a small commission for the site at no cost to you.

 

If you and your partner have made the choice to move on, the emotional strain can already be enough. However, with divorce comes a complicated financial process that involves the division of assets and property acquired during the course of a marriage. It is essential to understand the legal implications of dividing stocks in a divorce settlement to ensure a fair and equitable distribution.

a paper heart torn down the middle

The first step in dividing stocks is to determine whether they are separate property or marital assets. Separate property refers to stocks or other assets acquired by one spouse before the marriage or during the marriage by gift or inheritance. On the other hand, marital assets are those acquired during the course of the marriage, including stocks purchased by either spouse during this time.


Retirement accounts, including retirement plans, pension plans, and investment accounts, are also considered marital assets and are subject to division in a divorce settlement. However, retirement assets are governed by specific laws, such as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), which may require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to divide the assets properly.

Stock options, including unvested stocks and stock units, are also considered marital property subject to equitable distribution. The value of unvested stocks is calculated based on the date of separation or divorce, while the value of vested stocks is calculated based on the grant date.


The division of stocks and other assets in a divorce settlement depends on the state laws and the specifics of the case. Equitable distribution states, such as California, North Carolina, and Colorado, require the division of assets based on what is fair and equitable, but not necessarily equal. In contrast, community property states, such as Arizona and Nevada, require the division of assets equally.


The division of stock holdings and other assets also depends on the vesting schedule and the number of shares. For instance, if the stock options were granted for past services and vested during the marriage, the portion of the options that vested during the marriage is considered marital property. However, if the options were granted for future work, only the portion that vested before the date of separation is considered marital property.

Moreover, the division of stocks also involves tax implications and consequences. The tax consequences of dividing assets, including stocks, depend on several factors, such as the value of the stock, the past performance of the stock market, the time rule, and the capital gains tax rate. It is essential to consult with a financial advisor or a forensic accountant to ensure that the tax implications are considered in the division of assets.


Dividing assets, including stocks, can be a complicated process, especially if the assets are diverse, and the divorce agreement is complex. It is crucial to seek legal advice from experienced family law attorneys who specialize in property division to ensure that your interests are protected and that the division of assets is handled correctly.


In addition, it is essential to keep in mind that the division of stocks and other assets in a divorce settlement may have an impact on spousal support, child support, and future financial stability. Therefore, it is important to consider the best interests of both parties and find the best way to divide assets that provides an equal value to both parties.


Dividing assets, including stocks, involves several steps, such as determining the value of the stock, identifying the vesting schedule, considering the tax implications, and creating a settlement agreement or court order. It is essential to work with a financial expert or a financial institution to ensure that the division of stocks and other assets is done correctly.

Finally, it is important to note that the division of stocks and other assets in a divorce settlement may have different results depending on the state laws and the specifics of the case. It is essential to seek legal advice from a family law attorney who has extensive experience in property division to ensure that the division of stocks is handled correctly and that your interests are protected.


Conclusion

In conclusion, dividing stocks and other assets in a divorce settlement is a complicated process that requires careful consideration of various factors. It is essential to work with a financial expert, a forensic accountant, or a financial institution to ensure that the division of stocks and other assets is done correctly. It is also crucial to work with an attorney who has extensive experience in property division to ensure that your interests are protected.



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