It is rarely a straightforward process to value and divide stocks for a divorce. Even when it seems like it should be on the surface, there are often hurdles you must clear.
Before you agree to a division during settlement talks, you should discuss your options with a Denver divorce attorney familiar with high-asset and complex divorces.
In some cases, your attorney will recommend a forensic accountant.
A forensic accountant will ensure you know about all assets in your spouse’s name. They can also handle tasks such as valuing stocks and stock options and explaining your best options for getting the fair division you deserve.
Splitting Stocks or Allocating Other Assets for Fair Division of Assets
Several options allow you and your spouse to split the stocks you own together or the shares that one of you own but that are joint marital property.
These options include:
Selling the Stocks
Selling the stocks and splitting the proceeds seems like the easiest solution, but many people would rather keep their investments. Selling your shares can also have tax consequences that most people would rather avoid if possible.
Splitting the Investments
You can split your stock holdings as necessary to achieve a fair division. One person can take all the stock in one company while another takes ownership of another company’s stock. Or you can split the number of shares equitably.
There is no reason why you cannot each take 100 of the 200 shares of stock that are marital property or divide them in another way that ensures you get your fair share based on Colorado’s equitable distribution laws.
Division must include consideration of any tax consequences.
Other Methods of Division
In some cases, one person holds stock in their name — often received as a work benefit — but it is marital property because it was earned during the marriage.
When this occurs, they may not want to liquidate the stock or give it away, especially if they are still with that company.
When this occurs, they may be able to pay a cash value for their spouse’s share or offer them other assets to offset keeping all stock shares.
This method requires you to first put a value on the stock holdings, which may need a forensic accountant or another expert.
Employee Stock Options Can Be Even More Complex When Splitting Assets
While splitting stocks you already own can be complicated enough, valuing and dividing stock options during a divorce is even more complex. Stock options, at their most basic, are an option to buy the stock at a certain price at a later date.
These stock options may not have a cash value today, but, depending on the success of the company, the options could provide a nice nest egg down the road. This uncertainty makes it hard to put a value on them.
Sometimes options are non-transferable, so simply dividing them may not work either.
If you or your spouse has stock options, you will want an attorney familiar with the expansive Colorado case law on this topic and a forensic accountant to help calculate the value.
Colorado law does allow you to take a “wait and see” approach, putting off the division of those assets until the owner purchases the stocks.
Shapiro Family Law Can Help You Achieve an Equitable Distribution of Stocks
Shapiro Family Law handles high-asset and complex divorces. Our team can help you identify all stocks and stock options, value them, and equitably divide them.
We will fight for the equitable division of stocks and all other assets during your Denver divorce.
We regularly work with forensic accountants and can enlist the help of one to uncover all stocks and stock options available to you during the division of assets, if necessary.
This accountant can help us with discovery, valuation, and recommend a plan for the division of stocks and stock options.
Call us at 303-695-0200 today to learn more about how Shapiro Family Law can help you pursue fair property division in your Colorado divorce. We can also fight for spousal support, custody, and other important assets.
Talk to a Colorado Divorce Attorney About Dividing Your Stock Portfolio
At Shapiro Family Law, attorney Laura E. Shapiro has more than 30 years of experience handling even the most complex divorces.
With an emphasis on individual attention, compassionate counsel, and vigorous advocacy, she and her team can help you ensure equitable division during your divorce in Denver or elsewhere in Colorado.
Dial 303-695-0200 today to discuss your case with a member of our team.