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Are you aware of your soon-to-be ex's stock options?

When people get married, they tend to divvy up household duties such as lawn work, paying bills, grocery shopping or what-have-you. A problem that arises in divorce, then, is that one spouse has handled the financial side of the marriage, while the other spouse has essentially kept out of money matters. This happens more often than you might expect.

Unfortunately, one thing divorcing spouses in Illinois have to watch out for is the hiding of marital assets that should otherwise be divided equitably in the divorce settlement. Make no mistake: hiding assets in this way is illegal, and individuals need to be aware of the marital assets to which they are entitled.

We've discussed previously the division of property such as 401(k)s and other retirement accounts, but sometimes a spouse who started a work-related account will tell the other spouse that he or she doesn't have a right to it. But unless a prenuptial agreement states otherwise, retirement accounts started during the course of a marriage are regarded as marital property, meaning they are subject to property division.

In other words, don't believe it if your husband or wife tells you the 401(k) can't be divided.

Stock options are another kind of asset that a spouse might try to hide in divorce negotiations. An option doesn't have to be exercised for it to be included in a divorce settlement.

In any case, to help ensure the best possible outcome, it is important to meet with an attorney with experience in protecting divorcing parties' financial interests.

Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: The Truth About Your Husband's 401(k) And Other Assets," Jeff Landers, Aug. 8, 2013

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