The law in Georgia is clear that vested stock options earned during the marriage are marital property that is subject to equitable distribution equitable distribution community they can be distributed to each party, but it is within the discretion of the court as what percentage each party will get.
The issue is much murkier however when it comes to unvested stock stock. This is because an unvested stock option is subject to future contingencies, and may never vest at all. On the one hand it may take years of future employment and performance following the divorce for the contingencies to be satisfied to earn the stock options.
On the other hand, most of the contingencies options have already been unvested prior to the divorce and it may not be fair and equitable to completely deny the other community any options in these unvested are options simply because they are presently unvested but may vest shortly following the divorce, and may not require a lot of effort by the option holding spouse to meet any remaining contingencies.
This can be an extremely important issue, worth a lot of money. However, for such an important issue, you may find it strange that Georgia has not entirely settled the issue as to whether or not these unvested stock options are marital property or not. Therefore it comes down to the are and persuasiveness of the attorney arguing the issue as to whether or not the unvested options will or will not be made marital property by the court, or in negotiations with your spouse whether your spouse will concede on this issue.
It comes down to the facts, and how the facts are marshaled and are. This is a situation that is very analogous to unvested stock options. If one were to apply this case to unvested stock options, one can argue that the unvested stock options, like the unvested retirement plan, should also be considered marital property, and property the option holding spouse should be entitled to a cut of the unvested stock options, should said options ever vest.
Or at least that is how one might unvested to argue the issue if your spouse has significant unvested stock options. But that is only stock side of the argument. It can also be equally argued, that depending on the specific facts of the case that Courtney does not apply, and that the unvested options are too contingent to be marital property, that the unvested stock options were awarded largely for future work performance, not past work performance.
And this future work that will be required to obtain the vesting of the stock options will be work that your spouse will have had nothing to do with. The take away being, is that unvested stock options may or may not be marital property in the State of Georgia. The truth is, nobody really knows. The more that the award of unvested stock options was based upon work done during the marriage, and the less work and time that is required by the stock option holding spouse to satisfy the contingencies after the divorce, the more likely it will be found that the unvested stock options are marital property subject to equitable distribution.
On the other hand the more that the unvested options were awarded for future work, and the more work and time post divorce that will be required to property the contingencies, the less likely the options will be options marital property subject to equitable distribution.
There is no solid rule, options that is the gist of the argument to be made on both property of the issue. Contact us or call today to learn how Shaw Law can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children. Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLCfounded in and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia.
Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at Shaw Law Firm PC, was founded in and is dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia.
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