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DuPage County divorce attorney QDRO

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is necessary when dividing retirement savings. Without it, the payee can be subject to tax penalties, and there is no guarantee that an employer or retirement plan provider will adhere to your divorce decree alone. Because QDROs are necessary so often, most retirement plan providers have standard forms to help you and your attorney create a draft. If you suspect that the division of retirement assets will be complicated, you can still draft your own QDRO. Either way, it is worth understanding some common mistakes people make when creating QDROs and how you can avoid them. Regardless of your situation, you should work with a reputable divorce attorney you trust to ensure that your financial interests are protected.

Typical QDRO Errors

Even though many retirement plan providers have boilerplate forms for you and your attorney to use as a reference when drafting your QDRO, there are still several common mistakes that you should avoid:

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Oak Brook marital property lawyerIf you are an animal lover, you may have serious concerns about what will happen to your pet after your divorce. For some divorcing couples, deciding who gets to keep the family pet is easy. If one spouse was the main caretaker of the pet or he or she had the pet prior to the relationship, it makes sense that he or she would retain ownership of the pet(s). However, when both spouses want to keep the pet or one spouse insists on keeping the pet simply to hurt the other spouse, the situation becomes much more complicated.

Options When Divorcing Spouses Disagree About Pets

Pets are considered property according to the law and are therefore subject to equitable distribution. If a spouse obtained a pet before getting married, it may be considered a non-marital asset and assigned to the spouse who originally owned the pet. However, if the pet is considered a marital asset, each spouse may have an equal claim to the animal. Your dog, cat, horse, or other pet is probably like a member of the family to you. Because of this, discussions about who should keep the pet can become quite heated. Collaborative law and mediation are two methods of alternative dispute resolution during which spouses work to negotiate issues such as property division. If you are struggling to reach an agreement about pets and other issues, you may want to consider pursuing one of these dispute resolution options.

“Pet Custody” in an Illinois Divorce

If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement about pet ownership or other property division concerns, the court will step in and make a decision for you. Fortunately, Illinois law does make a distinction between pets and non-living pieces of property. According to the current law, a judge may consider the health and well-being of a pet when deciding which spouse the pet should live with. A spouse who has been actively involved in pet caretaking responsibilities, such as feeding the pet and taking the pet to veterinary appointments, can make the argument that he or she is better equipped to care for the pet than a spouse who did not take on these responsibilities. Divorcing spouses may also choose to share ownership of the pet. If both you and your spouse want to keep the pet, you may be able to negotiate an arrangement where each of you has the pet on certain days or certain weeks.  

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Naperville asset division lawyersWhen a couple gets divorced, the terms of the divorce are largely dependent upon financial information. Illinois courts divide marital property according to equitable distribution, which means that each spouse is given a fair, but not always equal, portion of the marital estate based on their income, assets, employability, and other factors. Child support and spousal support payments are also based on the spouses’ income and assets. The more complex the spouses’ financial portfolios are, the more likely complications will arise during the divorce process.

Spouses who own complex assets are also more likely to attempt to hide assets or lie about finances in order to manipulate the divorce terms. If you are considering divorce and your financial situation is less than straightforward or you have concerns about hidden assets, a forensic accountant may be a valuable resource.

Examining Financial Data for Inconsistencies

In order to fairly divide marital assets and determine child support or spousal support issues, divorcing spouses must disclose all of their income sources, assets, and other financial data. A forensic accountant is a specially trained accountant who knows how to thoroughly investigate the finances of an individual or business. Forensic accounting is often used in divorce cases involving allegations of financial fraud, but it is also useful in cases not involving financial deception.

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Naperville divorce attorneysIf you and your spouse are headed for divorce, you know that you will be expected to divide your marital property between the two of you. While you may not know for sure how that will play out, you may already be thinking about who—if either of you—will keep the marital home, who will get which car, and how to split the household furniture. In the stress and confusion of the divorce process, however, you may be forgetting about a very important—and possibly very valuable—asset of which you may be entitled a portion. Experts say that retirement accounts are the most commonly overlooked assets in a divorce case.

Retirement Savings and Plans

Before marital property can be divided, both you and your spouse should provide one another with a full accounting of all of your assets and debts, even if you think he or she already knows about them. In some cases, this may require a few calls to old employers inquiring about the status of employer-funded retirement programs or plans. You may realize that you have forgotten about a 401(k) plan or similar account that was opened years ago. The same may be true for your spouse, and the money in such accounts, depending on when the accounts were funded, may be considered part of the marital estate.

Marital or Non-Marital?

When considering a retirement account, your spouse may claim that, since his or her name is on the account, the funds are his or hers. The law, however, says otherwise. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, assets that were acquired by either spouse during the marriage are considered marital property in divorce. While there are a few exceptions, including property received by gift or inheritance, retirements accounts follow the standard guidelines. This means that any retirement contributions made during the marriage are considered marital property, regardless of the name on the account.

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DuPage County divorce attorneysWhen a married couple divorces, they will need to decide how all of their marital assets are divided. If spouses cannot reach an agreement about property distribution, the court will decide a property division arrangement on the couple’s behalf. One question many divorcing individuals have is, “How are pets managed during divorce?” Although you probably think of your dog, cat, horse, bird, fish, or reptile as more of a family member than a piece of property, the law generally treats pets as property. However, Illinois made changes to the way “pet custody” is handled during divorce in 2018. Read on to learn about this relatively new law and how it may affect your divorce case.  

Pet Ownership Laws in Illinois

Pets are still effectively considered property for the purposes of divorce in Illinois. If a pet is considered a non-marital asset, it will be assigned to the original owner. If the pet is considered a marital asset, a determination will need to be made regarding who will own the pet after the divorce. Although pets are not treated exactly the same as children in a divorce, the new law does make a distinction between pets and other property like bank accounts and furniture. Section 503 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states that if the pet is considered to be part of the marital estate, the court “shall allocate the sole or joint ownership of and responsibility for a companion animal of the parties…the court shall take into consideration the well-being of the companion animal.”

Sometimes, a spouse will argue for ownership of a pet simply to get revenge on the other spouse or draw out the divorce proceedings out of spite. Illinois judges consider which spouse can best provide for the pet’s welfare and who has been the primary caretaker for the pet in the past. This helps reduce the incidences of spouse acquiring ownership of a pet that they do not actually plan to love and care for. Spouses may also choose to share responsibility for pets.

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