Will deferred compensation get split up in your New York divorce?

Couples with significant assets acquired during their marriage will have to spend more time and energy considering the right way to divide those assets if they get divorced. Instead of straightforward and simple assets that may be easy to put a price on and fairly split, high-asset couples may have unique and unusual assets whose values change over time.

Investment accounts and retirement funds are examples of complex assets that people often struggle to properly divide in a divorce. Deferred compensation is another example, and deferred compensation is also an asset that some spouses forget to inquire about during a divorce. How should you approach deferred compensation in a pending New York divorce?

Deferred compensation earned during marriage is likely subject to division

New York’s approach to marital property involves the equitable distribution of marital assets. What you earn at your job, including benefits and deferred compensation, is usually part of the pool of marital assets. If you or your spouse earned deferred compensation during your marriage, at least a portion of that deferred compensation may wind up split as part of the property division process.

It can be difficult for spouses to agree on a fair and reasonable way to split deferred compensation. For example, stock options may have zero value until an individual has worked at a company for a specific number of years. If the person in question hasn’t reached that benchmark year yet, their stock options will have no current value that the spouse can access.

Whether the deferred compensation is qualified or non-qualified, whether there are restrictions on its use or receipt, and several other factors, can influence exactly how the courts decide to value and divide these unusual assets.

The more complex the assets, the harder it can be to price and split them

Diversifying your portfolio and financial holdings helps give you financial resilience during economic downturns or market adjustments. Unfortunately, holding multiple, complex assets can make getting divorced a lot harder.

The more complicated your assets are, the more important it becomes to advocate for yourself and make sure you get the right help in placing a value on those assets and seeking your fair share of them as the divorce proceeds.