It might seem like an easy question. In a community property state like Wisconsin, you add up how many stocks there are, divide by two and you have an even split, right?
But when you pick at the situation—stocks with variable prices, stock options with projections of high returns in the far future and restricted options that companies only give employees, this topic gets sticky fast. Let us start with a couple definitions:
These are employee benefits extended by a company, often as incentive to work in some sweat equity at the top of a startup. If an employee can purchase stock at $50 when the tradeup is $200, that is a massive swing in value. But as Forbes points out, the tricky thing with dividing stock is that there is no guaranteeing its value.
Restricted stock refers to shares in a company that an employee gets at no cost. These have the caveat of not being transferable until a certain threshold such as years worked or other metric. These, likewise, have value only if the stock market values them.
As these stocks present no hard value, it falls to legal teams and appraisers to guesstimate the reasonable value of divided stocks. Your spouse may even claim they do not have value or do not count since they are company stocks. Restricted stocks may sometimes fall out of the definition of marital property due to their time constraints, but it is best to make sure.
The short answer is stocks get split 50/50, like all marital property. The hard question is what is 50 really?