Q&A: Are stock options marital property?

As a general rule, it seems that the New York Divorce Courts view stock options as marital property. In fact, for high net worth individuals, stock options can be a very valuable piece of the pie as far as equitable distribution. It doesn’t matter that only one spouse is the beneficiary of these corporate benefits. So long as these were earned or given during the marriage, then they are marital property. The trick of course if valuing these assets. It is not always easy to value stock options. One day a company’s stock can be very valuable, the next day worthless. Usually the court orders a full financial forensics report that includes an accounting and a valuation of stock options and other marital assets.
One caveat: if the option is for future work that occurs after the divorce, the non-asset spouse could be out of luck with these. Check out this report from Business Week: http://www.businessweek.com/1998/31/b3589001.htm