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How Are Retirement Benefits Divided in a Divorce?

Going through a divorce requires looking at various aspects of the couple’s life, including any benefits that either spouse may have. If you are in the process of a divorce, you may have questions regarding the division of retirement benefits between you and your spouse. At Ward Family Law, LLC, we’re here to help you understand how retirement benefits are handled in Illinois divorces and what this means for your future plans. 

Why Are Retirement Benefits Important?

Having an established retirement plan is important to ensure that an individual is financially stable after they retire. These funds can also be used in any unforeseen circumstances and can help you have peace of mind knowing that your future finances are secured. In instances of divorce, couples may disagree upon how these funds should be distributed among them and how this can impact their future. 

How Does Illinois Divide Benefits in a Divorce?

For divorces occurring in Illinois, couples shouldn’t expect their full retirement benefits to be split between them. In fact, the court can’t divide benefits that aren’t considered marital property. Marital property refers to anything that was obtained during the marriage, regardless of whose name is tied to the property. 

Regardless of which spouses’s income goes into the retirement account, it can be considered marital property if the income went into the account during marriage. However, this doesn’t mean that both spouses are entitled to this money. In order to establish how much money each spouse is permitted to own, the following steps must take place:

  • The Value of the Retirement Account Must Be Determined

This step may involve the court’s intervention to correctly establish what money is marital property and which is non-marital. For example, if a spouse was working at their job prior to the marriage, any funds that went into the account would be considered non-marital property. Additionally, any funds that are established during the divorce proceedings would still be considered marital property, as the couple is not yet legally divorced. In order to determine how to split the funds, the overall value must be determined for each spouse’s account. 

  • Establish Which Decision Is Right for You

There are many options in deciding how to divide up your retirement plan. Though the court will finalize a plan, couples may choose to keep their accounts completely separate and maintain their own funds. Additionally, they can decide to allow one spouse to keep their accounts in order to establish ownership of other marital property. These are not the only options that a couple may choose, however, these are typically the primary methods of distribution. If a couple can’t come to an agreement on how to distribute the funds, the court can intervene and divide the funds as they see best. 

The court will analyze what’s considered marital property and non-marital property and help the spouses decide the most appropriate course of action to take. An attorney at Ward Family Law can help you through the entire process and make sure you understand how your benefits affect you. 

Contact an Illinois Attorney Today

If you have questions regarding the division of retirement benefits, contact our team today. We look forward to hearing from you soon. 

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