Retirement And Investment Accounts In Divorce 

Retirement And Investment Accounts In Divorce

Over the course of your marriage, you and your spouse’s retirement plans were closely tied to one another. Upon divorce, however, these plans can be dashed, and depending upon the circumstances, protecting your financial rights as they relate to your retirement and investments can be exceptionally challenging. Having an experienced Chicago divorce attorney in your corner is well-advised.

The Division of Marital Property in Illinois

In Illinois, the assets that you and your spouse acquire during your marriage are owned by both of you and must be divided fairly in the event of divorce. Those assets that you bring into the marriage with you – and that you are able to keep separate throughout – will remain your own.

When it comes to retirement and investment accounts, however, there’s a significant complication. While the accounts may have belonged to one of you at the time of your marriage, they are almost certain to have increased in value over the course of your marriage, and that increase is marital property.

The Division of Value

If you and your spouse have enough assets between you, you may be able to address the matter of one spouse’s retirement account by allowing the other spouse a more considerable portion of the additional assets. Further, if you and your spouse both have comparable retirement accounts, you may choose to walk away with your own. When these aren’t options, however, you’ll need to address the value of the retirement account another way. 


A QDRO is a qualified domestic relations order made by the court that is meant to divide retirement funds upon divorce. They are a critical tool when it comes to preserving the retirement plan or investment’s tax advantages upon division. The account in question is very likely only in one of your names, but a QDRO can preserve the favorable tax standing of the account while allowing it to be divided – without experiencing early withdrawal penalties. 


If the retirement account is through the State of Illinois or the City of Chicago and is addressed by the State Employees Retirement System (SERS), the order needed is a QILDRO – or a qualified Illinois domestic relations order, which directs SERS to pay a portion of an employee’s retirement benefits to a former spouse. 

Points to Keep in Mind

When it comes to your financial rights as they relate to divorce and retirement or investment accounts, it’s important to keep all the following in mind:

  • It’s important to address each retirement and investment account specifically – many people have multiples of each.
  • Some retirement plans, such as pensions, are more difficult to assess in terms of value at any given time, which makes affording them more careful attention critical. 
  • QDROs do not apply to most federal, state, and local retirement accounts, which is where the QILDRO comes into play. 

Discuss Your Options with an Experienced Chicago Divorce Attorney Today

The dedicated Chicago divorce attorneys at Hammer Serna & Quinn have helped many clients successfully address their retirement and investment accounts in divorce – in protection of their rights and best interests. We’re here for you too, so please don’t delay contacting us for more information today.

Get In Touch

Call or email Hammer Serna & Quinn, LLC today to schedule a consultation.