Property Division & Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO's)
Every divorce involves dividing marital property between the spouses. In Illinois, the division does not have to be equal but “equitable”—in other words, fair. The determination of what is “fair” is not always clear-cut. In fact, Illinois law lists numerous factors that play a role in determining what is fair, and what isn’t.
Obviously, the easiest way to arrive at a fair division of marital assets and marital debts is to negotiate out of court, settle the issue amicably, and put the settlement agreement in writing. The divorce court judge must approve of the settlement agreement before a divorce can be finalized. However, the court will almost always approve of a settlement, as long as it is fair, the parties have made a full financial disclosure to each other, and the agreement was reached freely and voluntarily, without coercion or fraud.
As experienced divorce attorneys, at Kollias P.C. we have advised clients and drafted literally thousands of settlement agreements dividing marital property. These agreements are always custom tailored to the individual client’s case to reflect the individual circumstances of the client, the economic situation of the parties, and the wishes of our clients. Hiring an experienced Illinois divorce attorney to advise you of your rights and obligations, and to either to draft a property division agreement or to review a proposed agreement, will give you reassurance that you that you have a fair settlement agreement and that the court will approve of it.
Even when both intend to settle amicably and out of court, it is sometimes difficult to ascertain all the issues that ought to be addressed in a divorce settlement. There are often procedural requirements related to some of the property. In some cases, one of the most valuable marital assets is a pension benefit. In order to divide a pension or other retirement asset without incurring adverse tax consequences, you may need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (known as a “QDRO,” and pronounced “quadro”). A QDRO is court order that forces a pension or retirement fund to divide an account among divorcing spouses. Usually, QDRO’s are not prepared until after a divorce is completed, and presented to the court at a later date.
Different pension or retirement funds have different administrators and different requirements for the preparation of QDRO’s. Sometimes, they even use different terminology, such as “Qualified Illinois Domestic Relations Orders (QILDRO’s)” or “Court Orders Acceptable for Processing (COAP’s)”. Because preparing these orders involves complex legal issues, discussing your specific situation with an experienced divorce attorney is the best way to ensure that you receive your share of the retirement assets quickly and without unnecessarily incurring taxes and penalties.
Often times, reaching a settlement is not easy. It may be the case that it is difficult to determine the value of marital assets, such as stock options or a business started during the marriage. Sometimes, the spouses have very different views about what is fair and equitable. Other times, a spouse may try to conceal assets, or argue that certain assets are non-marital. If divorcing spouses cannot agree on how to divide marital assets and debts, the divorce court judge will decide how they should be divided. In such a case, having an experienced divorce attorney advise you and present your case persuasively to the judge can make an enormous impact on your case and your future.
At Kollias P.C., we understand and we’re here to help. We have over 70 years of combined legal experience, and can assist you in understanding what your rights are, and what your obligations will be in a divorce case. In particular, we can help you:
- Determine whether a particular asset or debt is marital or non-marital
- Investigate whether your spouse has made a full and complete disclosure of his or her income, assets, and debts
- Ascertain the value of each individual asset and debt, including businesses, real estate, investment accounts, pensions, stock options, etc.
- Negotiate, prepare, and present out-of-court settlement agreements
- Advise you of the range of possible outcomes a judge could impose in the event a settlement cannot be reached out of court
- Assess the costs and benefits of various strategies to achieve a better outcome
- Determine the best strategy to complete your divorce quickly, efficiently, and amicably with the least amount of acrimony possible
Hiring an effective divorce attorney is key to ensuring that the judge hears all of the relevant evidence necessary to protect the your interests prior to making a decision. A good divorce attorney must be thorough, organized, and experienced at presenting facts clearly and persuasively in court. At Kollias P.C., we are all of the above.
For a free 30-minute initial consultation regarding the particular circumstances of your case, please call Kollias P.C. at (630) 407-1200, or complete the online intake form.