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Wheaton divorce lawyersAside from the family home, retirement accounts are typically one of the more valuable assets in a couple’s marital estate. When dealing with one in divorce, the valuation must be accurate and the division process must be exacting. Otherwise, the parties may be subject to lengthy delays, severe tax penalties, and a significant decrease in the overall value of their final settlement. Thankfully, all of these issues can be avoided, so long as the parties are educated about the process and have proper guidance from seasoned, competent financial and legal professionals. 

Not All Retirement Plans Are Divided in Divorce 

Though it is rare, it is possible for a retirement pension plan to be excluded from the marital estate. One example would be if the contributing party started the account prior to the marriage and has not made a contribution since that time. Contributing parties who wish to keep their retirement account intact may also choose to “buy out” their spouse by offering up other marital assets in lieu of a cut from the pension plan (i.e. trading the family home for the retirement plan). 

Qualified Domestic Relation Orders 

Qualified domestic relation orders, or QDROs, are used to divide “qualified” retirement plan assets between a contributing member and their ex-spouse. It is one of the few instances in which the plan can be divided without facing a tax penalty. However, a penalty may still ensue if the QDRO is not done, or if a mistake is made. For example, if you transfer funds directly to your spouse to help them out with money until they can get back on their feet, hefty tax penalties could ensue for you both. To avoid such matters, have a qualified team of legal and financial advisors on board before making any transfers or changes to your retirement plan. 

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DuPage County divorce attorneysDivorce can be a costly endeavor - especially when you are not prepared for the process. Thankfully, it is possible to place yourself ahead of the proceedings. Learn how with the following pre-divorce money management tips, and discover how our seasoned Wheaton divorce lawyers can help you with the process, long before you ever even file. 

1. Track Income, Assets, and Expenses

Before filing for divorce, it is crucial that you have a clear understanding of your financial situation. All debts, income, real estate, retirement accounts, pension plans, and other assets (i.e. jewelry, collections, etc.) that were acquired during the marriage should be considered. Once you have all the information you need, such as account statements and appraisals, make copies and store them in a safe place where your spouse cannot find them, such as in a safety deposit box or at a relative’s house. Also, be sure to regularly update documentation on any assets that may fluctuate in value, such as your bank account or retirement account. 

2. Check and Monitor Your Credit

Spouses who suspect a divorce may be on the horizon can become retaliatory, sometimes in the worst way possible. They may attempt to take out credit in your name, or they may run up your credit card bills. Avoid such issues by monitoring your credit before and after you file. Remove your spouse as an authorized user on any personal accounts, freeze or dissolve joint accounts (only do the latter under the guidance of your attorney), and report any suspicious activity. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersWhile most spouses embark on their divorce with no malicious intent, there are others who attempt to “get even” before they have even told their spouse that they want to separate. Some do this by running up debt, taking out new lines of credit under their spouse’s name, and intentionally dissipating their marital assets. Still, there are some who cash out an investment account, such as their pension plan or retirement account, and then spend or hide it to keep it from being added to the marital estate. Learn how to deal with this challenge in your Illinois divorce, and discover how the assistance of a seasoned divorce attorney can improve the final outcome of your case. 

Tracking Down the Missing Money

Most partners who remove money from their pension or retirement account to avoid having it added in the divorce will allow a great deal of time to lapse before divulging their desire to divorce. The reason for this is simple: by waiting, they hinder your ability to track down the missing money. However, it may still be possible to determine whether they spent the money or are simply trying to hide it. In most cases, there is a paper trail or large and frivolous purchases. Financial experts and a seasoned attorney can help you in this step by providing you with support, assistance, and valuable knowledge and resources. 

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DuPage County divorce attorneys, social security benefitsLate-in-life divorces, often referred to as “gray” or “silver” divorces, are becoming more common in the United States. While these divorces are more common and acceptable, many senior Americans do not realize the impact that divorcing or remarrying may have on their retirement and Social Security benefits. It is an important issue since Social Security is the primary source of income for many senior Americans. Understanding the impact divorce may have on your retirement future can help you navigate your divorce and avoid making costly errors.

Divorce May Impact Your Social Security Benefits

The impact of your divorce on Social Security depends on how long you were married to your spouse and whether you decide to remarry.

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