NEW YORK: Block v. Block, 685 N.Y.S.2d 443 (1999) Contingency fees are marital property

Did you marry a highly successful attorney? Well, you will like this case. It stands for the principle that any contingency fee case commenced before your divorce action is marital property. However, the case makes clear that the the fees should be “divided in proportion to the amount of time expended on the cases during the marriage and after the marriage rather than awarding the wife an arbitrary percentage of the fees.”  What that means is, lets say your husband is a personal injury lawyer for a top personal injury law firm in New York City. He takes a case on contingency meaning his pay is contingent on him winning the case. (As you know, personal injury cases can take years to conclude.)
In the interim, you and he get divorced. The law says that you have a share in the contingency fee even if you are divorced at the time he gets paid. So if he wins $1 million for the client, he will get about $330,000.00 (or 33% of $1 million). You are entitled to a portion of the $330,000. If he has a few of these babies in his coffers at the time of the divorce, well, cha ching! Start doing the math.
But keep in mind your share, according to Block will only be the percentage of the fee he earned during the marriage. Still, that can end up being a nice chunk of change.
I guess the rule would be the same for any professional who worked on a contingency basis.