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Are Stocks Marital Property?


You might not be the best looking guy around.  You have never played in a band, and you don’t have an Instagram account documenting your travel adventures.  Instead of spending the money you earned when you were in your 20s on memorable experiences or your image, you invested it in the stock market.  Eventually it paid off.  Your spouse chose you instead of the guy whose profile picture shows him riding a crocodile in Burkina Faso.  (Don’t try this in Florida; the crocodiles in Burkina Faso are different from any of Florida’s native or introduced crocodilian species.)  Now your spouse wants a divorce, and, pursuant to Florida’s no fault divorce laws, she has a right to dissolve the marriage and to get a fair share of the marital property.  This does not mean that you have to share all of your hard-earned money with your ex, only the assets that the court considers marital.  Are stocks marital property?  The short answer is it depends.  To find out more about how the division of property will likely go in your divorce, contact a Boca Raton divorce lawyer.

Dividing Stock Investments in a Divorce

The deciding factor to determine whether an asset is separate or marital is whether you acquired it before you married your spouse or during the marriage.  Any income that you earn and any asset that you acquire during your marriage is marital property, even if only your name is on the bank account or on the title to the asset.  The idea behind this rule is that both spouses contribute to the financial wellbeing of the family, regardless of whose name is on the pay stub; if you want to persuade the divorce court that your spouse sabotaged your family’s finances, the burden of proof is on you.

Property that you have owned since before the marriage, such as savings accounts or real estate properties that your spouse never inhabited, are your separate property.  Your spouse can persuade the court to treat a separate asset of yours as marital if she can prove that you used it as if it were marital, such as if you bought your house before marrying your spouse, but you lived in it together for a while during your marriage.

The appreciation of marital assets is marital property; therefore, if the court awards you the marital home, you may have to pay your spouse an equalizing payment equal to her share of the appreciation of the house’s value.  Likewise, the appreciation of separate assets is separate property, unless your efforts during the marriage contributed to the appreciation; remember, the law considers the fruits of all labor done during a marriage as marital property.  Therefore, unless your shares of stock are in a company that you own or manage, they are your separate property if you bought them before you got married.

Contact Schwartz | White About Division of Marital Property

A South Florida family law attorney can help you equitably divide your stock options and other valuable marital property.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.



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