Divorce Filing Fails to Split Marital Property

August 27, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - It doesn't matter that Anthony Kiniry's stock options were awarded by a new employer after his wife Deirdre Ann filed for divorce - they're still properly considered the couple's joint property.

With that ruling, the Connecticut Appellate Court turned away Anthony Kiniry’s appeal of a lower court’s property settlement, according to a report in the Washington-based legal publisher BNA.

Since the options from the First Boston division of Credit Suisse bank were intended to reward Kiniry’s past behavior and were earned during the couple’s marriage, the options were properly left in the pot to be divided up, the court said. The key date in divorce proceedings, according to the court: the date of dissolution instead of separation or of the filing of the divorce complaint.
Case History

According to court records, Deirdre Ann Kiniry filed for divorce in February 1988 and her husband moved out of the couple’s home in October.

On January 3, 1999, the husband began working with the First Boston division of Credit Suisse Bank where his salary and bonuses from Suisse Bank for 1999 was $1,482,126.

Of that amount, $328,505 was comprised of vested and nonvested stock awards (25% of the award vested immediately; the remainder vested at 25% per year over the next three years).

The lower court awarded the wife 60% of the stock options “if, as and when received” by the husband. He appealed, arguing that the wife was not entitled to a share of the options because his employment with Suisse Bank wasn’t until after their separation and the filing of the divorce action.

In rejecting the husband’s appeal, Judge Joseph Flynn, noted that documentation from Credit Suisse stated that both the vested and nonvested stock awards were to be considered a part of the husband’s total compensation package for 1999.

Flynn concluded that the trial judge had considered the circumstances of the options’ acquisition, pointing out that the wife was the primary caregiver for all four children during the period in which the husband earned the stock awards.

The case is Kiniry v. Kiniry, Conn. App. Ct., No. 21175, 8/20/02.