Some practitioners and commentators have proposed a “bright line” rule for the inclusion of stock options in the marital estate. Those who favor such a rule argue/suggest that the “bright line” should be the filing date of the divorce complaint. If the option was granted prior to the filing date, it is included; if not, it is excluded. The Connecticut trial judge in the much publicized Wendt case described such a rule as tantamount to a “serbonian bog” (a fascinating term which the reader should research and define).
In the recent New Jersey Appellate decision in Robertson v. Robertson, the New Jersey Court agreed. The New Jersey Court rejected a “bright line” rule finding instead that stock options must be analyzed in the factual context of each grant and each case. The critical determination in each case is whether they have been awarded for past services rendered to the recipient’s employer during the marriage or are an inducement for future employment.