QDRO Attorney

By: tompmiller | April 23, 2020

A pension plan is a defined benefit retirement account. It pays the Member or Participant a set amount of money (a defined benefit) for the duration of his or her life. In some instances a spouse or a former spouse is treated as survivor and receives a payments for the rest of his/her life if the Participant or Member dies first.


Generally, the value of a life time annuity is huge. This is particularly true if the payments are high. In the case of many public pensions/annuities, the payout is very large, around  75% of the retiring employees highest income.


There are less and less private pensions out there. Most employers have switched to defined contribution plans (like 401(k) or IRA plans). The public sector still has defined benef...

By: tompmiller | March 27, 2020


A pension plan, technically known as a defined benefit plan, pays a monthly annuity for the life of the member or participant. Examples of these are fewer and fewer in the private sector, only a few companies retaining defined benefit plans. In the public sector, there are many for laborers, teachers, police and firefighters, clerks and other public employees. Some of these include Illinois TRS, SURS, SRS, MEABF.


When a member of such a plan divorces, the marital portion of the plan is divided, typically 50/50, using a QILDRO. A QILDRO is a special court Order that is the sole and only way to divide an Illinois public pension.


How the marital portion is calculated makes all the difference for the member and his/her former spouse, the altern...

By: tompmiller | June 06, 2018


In Illinois, and in most courts through the country, a divorce judge only has jurisdiction over marital or community property. This means that a judge does not have the authority to divide individual or non-marital assets. Of course, it is the Judge that decides what is and is not marital property. The Judge looks to statutes and caselaw to make these determinations.


Primarily, as it relates to the pension and retirement plans, income earned during the marriage is marital income. Whatever is acquired with that income is marital. If you have a pension plan from before your marriage, income withheld & deposited into the pension during your marriage is marital. Funds you had in the plan before the marriage are your individual and ...

By: tompmiller | June 14, 2016

In a divorce, you may want to divide marital interest in a pension plan, but maybe not, maybe you would choose to offset interest in a pension against other assets or debts. Perhaps one party can retain the former marital residence and the other his/her pension, without dividing or buying out each other. Alternatively, maybe you want to keep your entire pension and are considering taking on all the marital debt in exchange for your spouse's waiver of his/her interest in your pension.


The first step, even before you answer the above questions is to know what the pension is worth. To make this determination, you will need an actuarial calculation. You can hire an actuary if you want a really good, well-reasoned calculation. On the other hand, ...

By: tompmiller | May 06, 2016

Whether you are in Chicago, its suburbs or outside of Illinois, dividing pension plans in a divorce is a question of math. A pension is oftentimes the most valuable asset that will be divided. There are different ways to divide this asset and this article covers one of the most common methods, the coverture formula, in Illinois often referred to as the Hunt formula because of a seminal case that heralded the method.


The first step is to confirm the type of plan you are dividing: is it a defined contribution plan, like a 401(k), or a defined benefit plan, a pension that will pay a monthly benefit at least until the Participant dies. Assuming we have a true pension plan, the next issue is that of timing.


Did the Participant work for the employe...