Retirement benefits have become among the largest assets to be addressed during the divorce process.
Many parties who contemplate divorce are surprised to learn that their retirement benefits comprise a large share of the couple’s joint assets. Nevertheless, retirement benefits have become among the largest assets to be addressed during the divorce process. If the intricacies of retirement benefits and the laws that regulate them are not understood and carefully considered during the divorce process, parties may later discover that they have received less than the full retirement benefit that could have been made available. At the Chicago area divorce law firm of Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP, one of our partners limits her practice to the discovery, analysis, and allocation of retirement and related benefits incident to divorce as well as the preparation of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders ("QDROs"), Qualified Illinois Domestic Relations Orders ("QILDROs"), and other specialized court orders that allocate retirement benefits between divorcing parties. This in-house retirement benefit expertise assures our clients that they will receive the maximum benefit possible from these valuable assets.
In Illinois, as well as in most other states, retirement benefits that are earned during the period of the marriage are considered to be marital property and may be allocated between the parties in a divorce proceeding. Thus, when parties are contemplating or working through a divorce, they must learn what retirement benefits have accrued to both parties and how those benefits may be factored into a settlement or litigation strategy.
Among the details to be considered regarding accrued retirement benefits are the following:
IL divorce lawyers are expected to know many areas of law in order to address effectively the issues that may arise in each divorce case. It is unrealistic to expect that a general divorce attorney will develop sufficient expertise in the intricacies of the laws governing retirement benefits and their allocation in divorce on the basis of one or two cases per year. It is also unrealistic to expect that attorneys in a firm specializing in employee benefits law will develop sufficient expertise in the nuances of divorce law as they relate to retirement plans on the basis of one or two cases per year. At Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP, a partner with eleven years of highly specialized experience in this challenging blend of employee benefits and divorce consults with all Schiller DuCanto & Fleck partners, as well as with divorce attorneys outside the Chicago firm, to ensure that they appropriately address all relevant issues regarding our clients’ retirement benefits and develop legal strategies to maximize those benefits either through settlement or trial.
No matter how thorough the trial preparation and how skilled the Illinois divorce lawyer, at times a party in a high-stakes case is dissatisfied with the results and wants to appeal. Trial judges are not perfect and can make mistakes; at other times, one of the parties refuses to accept the trial court’s final decision.
Mediation is a process in which divorcing couples meet with a trained mediator to explore ways to resolve family disputes with a voluntary agreement. Mediators do not represent either party.
Representing professional athletes, media personalities and entertainers or their spouses has been an important part of Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP’s history over the past 35 years.