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Must divorcing couples share property they acquire after they split up?

Must-couples-share-propertyMost people assume that a divorcing couple’s assets will be divided according to what they own at the time they separate. But in some cases, things that happen aftera couple split up can affect what they’re entitled to in a divorce.

For this reason, anyone who is contemplating divorce should tell their attorney about anything that could affect their own and their spouse’s prospects down the road.

Take the case of a man in South Carolina who was a partner in a real estate project. While his divorce was pending, the value of his share increased, and his partner later bought out his interest for $1.6 million. A court ruled that his wife could share in the increase in value, because it was due to the efforts of the partner and not the husband.

Here are some other examples:

    • A woman in Virginia received stock options from her employer while she was married, but options didn’t vest until after she had separated. The Virginia Supreme Court decided that the options could still be divided at divorce.


    • A Pennsylvania man filed a personal injury lawsuit before his divorce, but didn’t receive a settlement until after the divorce. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said he nevertheless had to share the settlement money with his ex-wife.


  • A Vermont couple didn’t have much money, but the husband came from a wealthy family and would likely inherit significant assets in the future. The Vermont Supreme Court said this fact could be considered when dividing the couple’s assets, so the wife could get a larger share.


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