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How Much of Your Pension Is Marital Property?

Posted on in Division of Property

How Much of Your Pension Is Marital Property?Your pension benefits are a marital property during your divorce, with some stipulations. Your spouse has a right to an equitable share of the value of your pension that you accrued during your marriage. If you worked towards your pension before your marriage, the value of those years is non-marital property. You can add value to your pension through means other than the number of years you worked. A recent Illinois divorce case decided whether the military service credits that a man added to his state pension are marital property.

Case Details

In the case of In re Marriage of Zamudio, the spouses had filed for divorce in 2014 after 14 years of marriage. The husband has a state pension from his 22 years of working for the Illinois State Police. During the marriage, the husband purchased four years of credit to add to his pension, based on his active military service from 1974 to 1980. When dividing properties during the divorce, the spouses disagreed on whether those purchased credits are marital properties:

  • The husband said that they are not marital property because their value came from his military service that predated their marriage; but
  • The wife said that they are marital property because the husband used marital money to purchase them.

The trial court sided with the husband, saying that all he owed the wife was half of the money that he spent to purchase the credits.

Decision Reversal

The wife appealed the trial court’s ruling, and an appellate court overturned the ruling in a 2-1 decision. The majority opinion stated that the value that the husband added to his pension did not come directly from his years of military service. Illinois’ pension program allows participants to purchase as much as four years’ worth of credit for their military service. The husband did not transfer the value of a pension he had accrued during his six years of military service. He paid to enhance the value of his pension through a service that he qualified for. Thus, the added value to his pension originated during his marriage and is marital property.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

Pensions are complicated properties to divide during a divorce. You must assess their value and determine how much of that value is marital property. A St. Charles, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Goostree Law Group can help you protect your pension or receive an equitable share of your spouse’s pension. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.


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