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Is a pension plan subject to property division in Illinois?

Many couples in Illinois start planning their retirement early on in their marriage. As such, retirement plans and other related assets may be the most significant ones that couples must divide as they go through the property division process of a divorce. Because pensions and other retirement plans acquired during marriage are typically considered marital property, they are likely subject to equitable distribution.

To divide a pension, there must first be a determination of its value, which is often more difficult to find than a 401(k). However, a value can be determined based on the estimated future monthly payment. Often, it is necessary to seek assistance from a pension appraisal expert or a financial professional.

Once the pension's value is determined, a decision regarding how it will be divided can be made. Only the value obtained during the marriage will be divided; value added prior to the marriage is considered a premarital asset. Because a pension is meant to be paid out in the future, the other spouse can either accept a higher share of a different asset, or he or she can receive a portion of the monthly payment once the plan begins to pay out. Many people choose the former option rather than waiting for a future payout. 

When it comes to property division related to certain retirement assets, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order is necessary. These must be written in accordance with the terms of the plans and can be rejected if they are not. Because of the complicated nature of dividing these assets, many people in Illinois going through a divorce want an experienced family law attorney helping them.

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