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How Are Bonuses Considered When Dividing Property?

Going through a divorce, you have many things to think about. You’ll need to divide your property and come up with reasonable expectations for spousal support or other complex financial situations. One thing you may also want to consider is if your bonuses are going to be divided.

A bonus could be calculated into your income as a part of your income figures during your divorce, but not always. Usually, regularly occurring bonuses will be considered income, but that isn’t always the case. Here are some factors to consider:

  • In the case that the bonus may be paid for work that you already did, this may be considered income already earned and added into your divorce
  • If a bonus is not regular and isn’t based on work that you’ve done, it may not be considered as income in the future (for the purposes of property division)

Generally, if you have a bonus that you have received prior to filing for divorce, that bonus will be considered marital property and be divisible based on the state’s equitable distribution rules. However, the bonus shouldn’t usually be counted twice. For example, if you get a $500 bonus, you might agree to split it with your spouse. If you aren’t sure if you’ll get a bonus again, then you wouldn’t want to add that bonus a second time as income to determine your support obligations.

Bonuses in the form of perks, such as a vehicle used for work and your family, may also be considered as marital property for the purpose of determining your income. This is something to look into, since the bonuses and perks you have on the job may not be direct compensation.

Do commissions work the same as bonuses?

For commissions, which are similar to bonuses, you may need to show that the commission was not earned until after filing for divorce. However, your spouse may argue that you did the work for the commission prior to filing for divorce, so the money should be split. This is a situation in which you may need to negotiate or turn to the judge to determine if this is truly marital property or not. It’s in your best interests to file for divorce as soon as you can prior to any major deals so that you can minimize the risk to future commissions or bonuses.


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