You and your spouse decide to divorce, but you worry about how a judge will split your assets. Even before you married your spouse, you began a career that established a successful future pension plan. Now that you and your spouse wish to separate, you are concerned about the division of the pension agreement.
Illinois operates under the law of equitable distribution when dividing assets during a divorce. Equitable distribution allows a judge to look at many aspects of your marriage and determine a fair, yet generally equal split of property. Included in this property are retirement accounts and pension plans.
Understanding all elements of equitable distribution proves essential when determining what your rights are to various property, but know that Illinois court works to make the most educated decision on the division of your and your spouse’s shared assets. When dealing with expensive property, including valuable pensions and retirement plans, you want to speak with an experienced family law attorney to help you supply all necessary divorce documents and bring forward an accurate claim for your assets.
Equitable distribution and marital property
The assets subject to split in Illinois divorces include all marital property. Marital property is determined to designate all assets acquired by you or your spouse during the course of your marriage. Property like homes, cars and bank account money all lie in marital property.
In addition, Illinois states that other elements eligible for division include:
- Defined pension benefit plans
- Defined contribution plans and accounts
- Individual retirement accounts
The court will determine that if you acquired these debts or assets during your marriage, this indicates the assets’ “common ownership” between individual spouses.
Separate property and your rights to your own assets
Some couples have wealth from before their marriage. According to Illinois law, this wealth will indicate “non-marital property” and will not face division. Non-marital property includes:
- Gifts or inheritances
- Property acquired before the marriage
- Property acquired after a previous divorce
- Property in a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial
- Excluded property by the court
- The increase in value of any property acquired before marriage
- Income from non-marital property
If you began to acquire pension or retirement benefits before your marriage, a court will attempt to determine the value of these assets and ensure that you receive the correct share of the pension that is deemed non-marital property. As this property is solely owned by you, your spouse will not have access to it after a separation or court-ordered division.
Ensure that you have the right to all of your non-marital and divided marital property after a divorce proceeding by hiring an attorney. He or she will have expansive experience in family law and can help you determine your exact rights to property during the emotional divorce process.