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Are My Stock Options Marital Property?
In Maryland, stock options granted during the marriage are considered marital property subject to equitable division upon divorce, regardless of whether they are vested or non-vested.
A stock option is a contractual right to purchase company stock for a specific price at a specific time.
Upon divorce, the Court can divide stock options between spouses under a formula where the options are divided "if, as and when" they are exercised by the employee spouse. However, the Court cannot require the employee to ever exercise the options. The Court can alternatively value the stock options and grant a monetary award to the non-employee spouse to adjust the parties' equities in property ownership.
Division of stock options in divorce is a complex and growing area of family law, often requiring expert analysis on valuation and tax impacts.
Maryland law requires equitable distribution of property in a divorce. The court determines a fair award of property and debt. Unless the couple can reach a settlement, the court divides the marital property, pension, retirement, profit sharing or deferred-compensation plans. The court considers contributions of each party, the well being of the family, the property value, the economic circumstances of each spouse as well as current situations such as age, mental state, the duration of the marriage, and the interest each party has in the property.
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