Achieving An Equitable Division Of Marital Property
Most people who go through a divorce understand that the assets accumulated during their marriage will probably decrease by about half, as each spouse receives a fair share of the marital estate. Some common concerns are how marital property is distinguished from nonmarital property and how the debts will be paid in the process. Retirement plan benefits such as pensions and 401(k) plans are also marital property, subject to division.
We are a family law firm serving clients in Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford Counties and throughout Central Illinois. We have broad experience handling complex property division and pension issues for both men and women in divorce.
What Is Marital Property?
In Illinois, marital property generally includes all assets and debts accumulated during the marriage. There are certain exceptions, such as property received as a gift and property which has been inherited. Matters become complicated when nonmarital property is commingled with marital property.
Marital property can include:
- Business and corporate interests
- Houses and other real estate
- Savings and investment accounts, regardless of whose name is on the account
- Credit card debt
- Stock options and deferred compensation
- Retirement benefits that were earned during the marriage
Illinois uses the standard of equitable property division. This typically means a 50-50 division, but a judge may determine a different division of property to be equitable under the circumstances of a given case. Sometimes a divorcing couple agrees that one spouse will receive a greater proportion of the marital property in exchange for a waiver of maintenance. There is the opportunity to be creative in fashioning a settlement which is equitable to both spouses.
Dividing Retirement Benefits
Retirement benefits are divided using what is known as a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). When dividing a retirement benefit, it is important to consult a lawyer who is well-versed in the preparation of QDROs and understands retirement plan language.
Example: Pension plans offer lifetime-only and joint-survivor payment options. The lifetime-only option pays benefits for the employee’s lifetime but ends when the employee dies. The joint-survivor option pays benefits for the lifetimes of both the employee and the nonemployee.
We have substantial experience preparing QDROs and are often consulted by other attorneys on drafting issues.