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How much am I entitled to from my ex's pension after 15 yrs of marriage if we're divorcing in Chicago?

This legal question related to Family law attorneys in ChicagoIllinois has been answered.

Location: Chicago  |  Law type: Family law attorneys

Can I get half of the pension?

Hey folks, here's the deal. Been married to my soon-to-be ex for 15 years and we're calling it quits. We're in Chicago, and I've been a stay-at-home mom for the majority of our marriage while he's been working at a corporate job with a nice pension plan. I heard from a friend that I might be entitled to half of that pension since I've been supporting him and taking care of the kids and house all these years. Is that true? How does that work in Illinois?

  • Entitled to half after 15 years?
  • Laws specific to Illinois/Chicago?
  • How's it calculated?

Do I need a lawyer for this?

I haven't got a lot of cash on hand right now, what with being a stay-at-home mom and all. Do I really need to get a lawyer to stake a claim on his pension, or is this something we can sort out between us? If I do need a lawyer, any recommendations for someone who won't cost me an arm and a leg?

  • Lawyer necessary?
  • Affordable lawyer recommendations?

What if he's hiding assets?

Another thing, I'm kinda worried he might be trying to hide some assets or money. Got this nagging feeling, you know? What should I be doing to make sure I get a fair shake when it comes to the financial split? Any tips on how to find out if he's stashed away anything I should know about?

  • Steps to uncover hidden assets?
  • What if he's not disclosing everything?

What about the kids' college fund?

We set up a college fund for the kids, and I wanna make sure that's safe no matter what. Can he touch that? Or is there a way to make sure the kids' fund is off-limits during the divorce proceedings?

  • Protecting kids' college fund?
  • How to keep it secure through divorce?

I'm just trying to make sure I'm set up to take care of myself and the kids once this is all over. Thanks in advance for any help you guys can give!

Commonly posted questions...

A compassionate and professional family law attorney is having a consultation with a client about a divorce. The setting is a warmly lit, tastefully decorated office that feels welcoming and calm. The attorney, a middle-aged South Asian woman, sits across from her client, a distressed but hopeful Caucasian man in his late 30s. They are reviewing documents together, and there's a sense of understanding and empathy in the scene. The room has bookshelves filled with law books, a large window with a view of a s Divorce consultation
3 weeks 2 days ago, Family law attorneys, Rockmart
A close-up image of a professional and calm environment suitable for a family law consultation. The setting includes a well-organized and elegant office space, indicative of legal expertise in family law matters. The desk is adorned with tasteful, positive decorations, including a small potted plant, a family photo frame, and a stack of neatly arranged legal documents. The overall color scheme is warm and inviting, with natural light streaming in through a window, creating a reassuring atmosphere. The image Am I entitled to my money back?
3 weeks 4 days ago, Family law attorneys, Coral Gables

Legal Solution

The response provided below is specific to Family law attorneys in the jurisdiction of Chicago. If the response is inadequate, please submit a detailed inquiry.

Entitlement to Ex-Spouse's Pension in Illinois

Relevant Illinois Pension Division Laws

In Illinois, the division of retirement benefits in a divorce is governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Specifically, pension benefits accrued during the marriage are considered marital property and are subject to division. Unfortunately, without specific statute numbers, I cannot provide direct links, but you can access comprehensive information regarding Illinois laws through the Illinois General Assembly's website.

Division of Pension: Understanding Your Rights

Under Illinois law, the portion of your ex-spouse's pension that was accrued during the marriage is considered marital property. This means you are likely entitled to a share of it in the divorce. The exact amount can vary; while a 50/50 split is common, the court has discretion to order a division based on equitable distribution, taking into account factors such as the length of the marriage and the contributions of each spouse. The division of these assets typically requires a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which is a legal order that allows for the division of retirement benefits. Given the complexities involved, it is advisable to find the right lawyer who specializes in family law to ensure your rights are protected.

Legal Representation and Cost Considerations

Given the complexity of dividing pensions and retirement benefits, obtaining legal representation is highly recommended. To manage costs, consider seeking out family lawyers who offer sliding scale fees based on income or who may take your case pro bono if you qualify. Additionally, some attorneys might offer a free consultation to discuss your case, which could be beneficial in understanding your position without immediate cost.

Table of Average Legal Costs in Chicago

Service Provided Average Cost in Chicago % Difference from National Average
Initial Consultation $250 - $400 +10%
Retainer Fee for Divorce Lawyer $3,500 - $10,000 +15%
QDRO Preparation $300 - $600 +5%
Full Divorce Proceedings $15,000 - $30,000 +20%
Asset Investigation for Hidden Assets $2,000 - $5,000 +25%

Prices vary significantly based on the complexity of the case and the reputation of the lawyer. Chicago's legal market is competitive, and fees are typically higher than the national average due to the higher cost of living and the concentration of skilled divorce lawyers in the area.

Complexity of Pension and Asset Division Cases

Pension and asset division can be highly intricate due to factors such as the type of pension, valuation of assets, and potential for hidden assets. Here are three brief case studies:

  1. High-Asset Divorce: A complex case where one spouse has multiple retirement accounts and is suspected of concealing assets. Resolution might involve forensic accounting and extensive negotiation.
  2. Long-Term Marriage with Pension: Involves determining the marital portion of a pension and often requires actuarial evaluation. The use of a QDRO is crucial here.
  3. Business Owner Divorce: Requires a business valuation and consideration of how the pension fits into the overall asset portfolio.

Legal professionals adept in arbitration and mediation may assist in reaching a settlement without extensive court involvement.

Relevant Questions for the User

  • What is the date of your marriage and separation? This helps determine the length of the marriage, which is a factor in dividing assets.
  • Do you have any documentation related to the pension plan? Documents such as statements or plan descriptions are necessary to understand the pension's value and the benefits accrued during the marriage.
  • Have you noticed any unusual financial activity or missing documents? This may indicate an attempt to hide assets, and specific instances can be critical for an attorney to investigate further.

Common Questions from Clients

Q1: How is the marital portion of a pension calculated in Illinois?

The marital portion is usually the part that was accrued from the date of marriage to the date of separation or filing for divorce. An actuary or financial expert often calculates this value.

Q2: Can my spouse legally hide assets during our divorce proceedings?

It is illegal to hide assets during a divorce. If you suspect your spouse is doing so, your lawyer can use discovery tools to uncover hidden assets.

Q3: What happens if my spouse and I can't agree on the division of the pension?

If you cannot reach an agreement, the court will decide based on the principle of equitable distribution. This may involve a trial where evidence is presented and arguments made regarding the division of assets.

Q4: Is it better to take a lump sum or monthly payments from a divided pension?

This depends on your financial needs, tax implications, and life circumstances. A financial advisor can help determine which option is more beneficial for you.

Q5: Can I negotiate other assets in place of the pension?

Yes, during the asset division process, you can negotiate to receive other marital assets in lieu of a portion of the pension if you and your spouse agree.

If you have more details or specific concerns, feel free to share, and I can provide more tailored information.


This content is for informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It's always recommended to consult with a local attorney about your specific situation.

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A Family attorney in the United States is a lawyer who assists clients with civil legal matters, such as "child custody", "alimony", "domestic violence" or "divorce" cases. The "family law" candidate should have at least 2 years of family law experience. These experiences may include divorce proceedings as well as child custody and counseling. Browse our database of family lawyers and get a free family law consultation.

  • Marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships (domestic violence)
  • Adoption and surrogacy
  • Child abuse and child abduction (child custody, child care)
  • The termination of relationships and ancillary matters, including divorce, annulment, property settlements, alimony, child custody and visitation, child support and alimony awards
  • Juvenile adjudication
  • paternity testing and paternity fraud
  • more about family law at wikipedia
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