Yes, they can. Some employers provide their employees what’s called “restricted stock units” (RSUs) or “restricted stock awards” (RSAs). They are the new breed. Stock options are rarely given anymore, they’re kind of old school. There’s still a few hanging out there, but most of them are now restricted stock.
Usually these employers have a vesting schedule on their stock. At Intel it’s usually every four years, so you get a grant of, let’s say, a thousand shares of stock. A quarter of those vest every year for the next four years. You are able to divide unvested stock units in a divorce pursuant to a case that’s called a Powell and Powell case, sort of a coverture fraction where you get 50% of stock that is vested and a smaller percentage of unvested stock. The sooner it vested, your percentage is going to be bigger; the farther away it vests, your percentage of the non-employee spouse will be very small because the other spouse has to continue to work at the job for years after your divorce. Based on the fact that you guys aren’t married anymore and you haven’t really contributed to that, your percentage of those unvested RSUs is going to be very small by the final year of vesting.
Laura Schantz is a family law attorney and mediator practicing in Beaverton, Oregon. To learn more about Laura Schantz and her firm, Schantz Law P.C., visit www.oregondivorceattorney.com.