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Pension and Retirement Assets Are Usually Marital Property

 Posted on June 11, 2016 in Division of Property

Lombard family law attorneyIn contested divorces, many spouses begin the case thinking about the marital property they would like to keep. Often the parties will dispute who gets the house. Sometimes one spouse would really like a certain piece of furniture or possibly a vehicle that the couple bought together. Marital property is more than just physical objects, however, and there is even more to it than just considering the current cash and investments that you and your spouse have. Under Illinois law, pension and retirement accounts are also considered marital property, and though you and your spouse may not retire for many years, this money will need to be considered in your divorce agreement.

Dividing Pension and Retirement Accounts in an Illinois Divorce

In Illinois, marital property is generally anything that the spouses acquired together during the course of a marriage. The state of Illinois considers pensions, whether they are vested or unvested, to be marital property subject to division in divorce proceedings. According to the law, marital assets are to be split equitably. This does not mean that each spouse will get half of all marital assets, but rather that a court will divide these assets as fairly as possible.

While there are many types of retirement plans available, and all are subject to Illinois laws on marital property, the two most common types that come up in divorce cases are defined contribution plans and defined benefit plans.

Defined contribution plans are typically 401(k)s offered by private employers to which you contribute a portion of your paycheck each month to build up an account that you can access as you get older. Defined benefit plans are more traditional pension plans in which an employer uses a formula based on longevity and salary to determine how much money you will receive in retirement. In Illinois, many state, city, and county employees have defined benefit plans.


Depending on the type of plan in question, you will need to enter either a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) or a qualified Illinois domestic relations order (QILDRO) to facilitate the division of the assets.

The QDRO is used to determine each party’s share of a pension plan through a private employer. The QDRO directs the administrator of the plan to pay a portion of the spouse’s pension to the former spouse at a later date. A QILDRO is much the same, however, it is specific to pension plans for the state of Illinois involving government workers at the state or local level. In either case, the amount that a former spouse receives through a QDRO or QILDRO will depend on the length of the marriage while the other spouse was a member of the pension plan.

Let Us Assist You Today 

Divorce can be a complicated area of the law. You may have no idea what type of property you are entitled to after your divorce is finalized, but an experienced Lombard family law attorney can help you get your fair share. Contact our offices today to speak with a member of our team about protecting your rights every step of the way.



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