When is your ex entitled to some of your bonus?

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2020 | Firm News

When your marriage comes to an end, you and your ex are going to have to work through several matters before you can effectively part ways. You are, for example, going to have to figure out how to divide your home, vehicles and other valuable assets, and you may also have to figure out what to do with stocks, retirement accounts and the like. If you are set to receive a bonus from work, though, are you legally obligated to share some of it in your divorce? 

The short answer is, it all depends on the type of bonus you are receiving. 

Bonuses for last year’s work 

If you are receiving a bonus for work you performed last year, while your marriage was intact and you had not yet filed for divorce, you may well have to split it with your former partner. Under these circumstances, though, you should keep an eye out for your ex’s legal team potentially trying to “double-count.” 

Essentially, double-counting means that your ex’s attorneys would say you need to split the bonus and that you also have to add the full amount of that bonus when reporting your overall income. That way, your ex could potentially make an argument for more spousal support. 

Prepaid bonuses with clawback provisions 

In some cases, your boss may have given you a bonus shortly after you signed on with an agreement that you would have to repay it if you left your post or failed to uphold your professional obligations. Under these circumstances, there is really no clear answer as to whether your ex has a right to any of your bonus. You could certainly argue that, because the bonus was not definitive, it should not count as a divisible marriage asset. However, if you voluntarily quit the position, your ex could argue that he or she had a right to it and is missing out on it due to your decision to leave your job. 

Asset division is often complicated, but it is typically wise to take your time with the process to ensure you receive everything you deserve.