Whether you are about to get divorced, are in the process of divorcing, or have divorced, the division of any retirement and pension plans can be a little confusing. It can also be difficult dealing with the third-party agencies that handle the pension or retirement accounts.
For starters, Illinois is an equitable division State which means that the marital portion of a person’s pension or retirement account will most likely be divided equally absent extenuating circumstances. A judge may do an unequal division if one party has a disproportionate amount of non-marital funds such as a non-marital property or large inheritance. Absent these circumstances, the judge will divide the marital portion equally.
Secondly, your judgment will have to reflect the division of the pension or retirement at division and any other necessary information such as survival benefits, specific formulas, etc. It should also reflect which party will be responsible for preparing and entering the order that will effectuate the division, also called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) or Qualified Illinois Domestic Relations Order (QLDRO).
A QDRO or QLDRO is a separate order that needs to be entered and certified by the Judge with specific legal language regarding the division of the pension. It should include your date of marriage, date of divorce, and the percentage award for each party. It should also include any other permissive and non-permissive options and any survivor or death benefits. This process may take a little while as there may be some back and forth between the attorney preparing the QDRO and the agency. Once it has been approved by the agency and the order has been entered by the judge, then the order should be sent to the agency for processing.
Once the order is entered, talk to the individual agency regarding the benefits and restrictions provided by the agency. You may be entitled to a lump sum payment now, or you may have to wait until your ex-husband is in pay status before you can collect. Talk to an attorney if you have any questions regarding you pension division benefits.