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Could your spouse take part of your pension in a divorce?

 Posted on January 31, 2021 in Divorce

For decades, you have gone to the same job and put in countless hours. You may have picked up overtime or even gone in unpaid as a favor to the boss. You have slowly but steadily watched the balance of your pension account increase and have probably always planned to spend those golden years of retirement with your spouse.

Unfortunately, divorces among those close to retirement age are increasingly common. You might realize you aren't happy or wind up blindsided when your spouse suddenly files for divorce. If you don't have a prenuptial agreement, can your spouse try to claim part of your pension in an Illinois divorce?

Pensions are often vulnerable in divorce

Like most other states, Illinois has adopted the equitable distribution standard. The income, assets and debts you and your spouse acquired during the marriage belong to both of you as marital property. The courts will try their best to find a fair way to split them up if the two of you don't agree about what is reasonable and fair.

While some of your pension accrued prior to marriage or after your separation may not get divided, the balance from during your marriage is likely subject to division. Even if your spouse didn't work and did not make financial contributions to the household, they may have a claim to a portion of the pension's value. The courts might issue an order to give a portion of the account to the dependent spouse. They might consider that spouse's portion of the pension and give them other assets of a similar value. They could even order spousal support (alimony), for when the house with the pension starts receiving pension payments.

Protecting yourself, including your pension, during divorce, often means planning the property division process carefully. An experienced family law attorney can provide valuable guidance.

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