Illinois divorce

Restricted Stock Units (“RSU”) treated like Stock Options by Illinois Divorce Court

In Re Marriage of Micheli, 2014 IL App (2d) 121245 (July 31, 2014)

In this case, the trial court divided all marital assets equally, including vested stock options, but then awarded all unvested stock options and Restricted Stock Units (“RSU”) to the husband.

Restricted Stock Units, like options, are a form of deferred compensation from an employer. The units are awarded to an employee, and when the restriction terminates, the RSUs become common stock. The RSUs yield dividends to the employee before they vest.

The Appellate Court reversed, holding that awarding all unvested options and RSUs to the husband was an abuse of discretion. To explain, trial courts have fairly wide latitude or “discretion” to award marital property equitably to parties in divorce, but there are limits to this discretion.

The Appellate Court reasoned that all unvested options must be apportioned at the time of judgment, just like stock options as set forth in Illinois law at 750 ILCS 5/503(b)(3). It further held that RSUs were analogous to options and therefore also needed to be divided between the parties as well.

The trial court stated “The uncertainty of the values of the unvested stock options and RSUs is not an impediment to an equitable distribution when they become vested.”

If you need assistance with a new divorce or would like a second opinion in an ongoing case, please contact our office to schedule a phone or in person consultation with me at 630.665.7676.

Illinois Divorce and Taxes

IRS LogoIRS Pub 504

If you are getting divorced, or recently were divorced, it is important to speak to an accountant regarding your tax situation. Note that the IRS considers you married if you were married on the last day of the year, and your divorce decree also provides for the award of tax credits and exemptions for children. Generally speaking, the transfer of property as provided in a divorce decree (distributing assets from bank accounts for example) is a tax free event, but proceeds from a home sale due to divorce are taxable.

As you can see many tax issues exist due to divorce, and it is worth the time and money to consult with a good accountant about these issues.

IRS Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals, is a great source of information (and surprisingly clearly written!) about tax topics.

Please call at 630.665.7676 to schedule a consultation about your maintenance, support, or divorce case.

Note – Per IRS Circular 230, this information is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed; this information was written to support the promotion or marketing of our legal servcies, and you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.