Understanding restricted stock units can be key when dividing assets in divorce

Your spouse’s career has flourished over the years and their income has steadily grown as they reached the top levels of their company. You know that it consists of more than just a salary. You may have heard them talk about bonuses, stock options and commissions. However, you never paid much attention until you started preparing for divorce. 

Now you need to understand precisely what comprises their income as well as when and how it’s paid to ensure that you get a fair settlement as well as any spousal and child support you’re seeking. Let’s look at just one type of income that many people in top corporate positions receive: restricted stock units.

What are RSUs?

Restricted stock units (RSUs) are a type of deferred compensation in which future income depends in part on a person’s performance, the company performance and a person’s length of time with the company. Sometimes start-up companies without much cash will offer employees RSUs in lieu of large salaries, with everyone making the bet that eventually their stock will be worth a considerable amount. 

Your spouse may have earned RSUs that haven’t yet vested, or been paid out. If they were earned during the marriage, you may have a right to a portion of them or something of equivalent value.

Finding your spouse’s RSUs

Before you can find them, you first have to know whether they exist. RSUs are a relatively easy type of asset to hide if the other spouse doesn’t know about them. Your attorney and perhaps a financial professional like a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) can help find them, calculate their value and determine how much of that value is marital property.

If you’re the one with RSUs, it’s essential to include them when you disclose your list of assets and debts. Your attorney and financial professional can help ensure that you’re providing an accurate value and how they may need to be divided in the divorce.

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