Are you going through a divorce and a personal injury claim settlement at the same time?

We can understand how difficult the process can be, as separation brings a whole lot of emotional and financial struggles.

In this situation, the most common question that often comes to mind is – “Will my spouse get a share in my personal injury claim settlement?”

In a divorce, the property is divided into marital and separate property.

This article will explain what these terms mean and how everything gets divided when a marriage ends.

How Does Property Split in a Divorce?

In some states, the property is split equally during a divorce, even if it's not titled the same way. It also includes personal injury money.

However, in other states, the law usually sees personal injury settlements as personal, not shared. It matters because it usually means the court won't divide the settlement with your spouse.

Some states mandate an equal division of property during a divorce, regardless of differences in titling. But there are exceptions. Some parts of a money settlement may not be discernible as separate property.

Consider this:

1.Non-economic damages

For things like "pain and suffering" (non-economic damages), courts usually see that as your personal property.

2.Economic damages

People typically view money for concrete losses (economic damages), such as medical bills, as sharable.
It's up to you to make the case that some parts of your settlement aren't sharable property. You can hire an experienced personal injury law firm to help you deal with the claim settlement.

When Do You Consider a Settlement Separate Property?
In equitable distribution states, you divide the assets in divorce after listing each spouse's property, assets, and debts. The law classifies these as separate or marital property.

Separate property includes pre-marital assets and, in certain situations, even items acquired during marriage, like inherited property.

Additional examples of separate property cover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, reduced income, emotional distress, or loss of consortium—the mental or physical toll experienced by the victim.

When Do You Consider a Settlement of Marital Property?
Marital property includes assets, property, and debts acquired during the marriage. They are often tied to the income earned and purchases made through that income while married.

Given that a personal injury settlement combines marital and separate property elements, the court leans towards equitable division. Simply put, the judge strives to divide the settlement fairly, adhering to established laws and regulations.

Treatment of compensation for lost wages and medical expenses that you incur during the marriage as marital property is common. It is because lost wages have an impact on the resources you share, especially if you use marital assets to cover expenses like medical bills during the marriage. In such cases, people view sharing the compensation with the spouse as fair.

Can Your Spouse Get a Share in Your Personal Injury Award?
Whether your spouse gets a share of your personal injury settlement depends on several factors. The personal injury settlement is typically separate from marital property if the divorce process is already underway.

Personal injury awards usually consist of economic and non-economic damages.

Separate property distinctions often categorize damages such as pain, suffering, and disfigurement.

On the other hand, damages often considered marital or community property include loss of earning capacity during the marriage and compensation for harm to shared property.
People often consider payments such as workers' compensation and disability benefits as marital property.

How the Division Will Take Place?

The division of a personal injury settlement in a divorce depends on key details:

Timing and Compensation: When the injury occurred and when you received compensation matter.

Handling of Funds: The allocation and utilization of the money play a role.

Purpose of Compensation: What is your compensation for, especially if it impacts your spouse's life, can influence the division.

If the injury happens during the marriage and affects your spouse's life (e.g., lost wages, medical bills, property damage), they have an entitlement to a share. The amount depends on these factors and your unique situation. However, spouses typically can't claim compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

How to Protect Your Settlement from Your Divorce?

Understanding the difference between marital and separate property is crucial when safeguarding your personal injury settlement during a divorce.

The wording in the divorce agreement is key. To protect your settlement, separate what you share and what's yours, especially if the fund's usage is for joint purchases.
A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can guide you, offering personalized advice. They can help with the language in the settlement, ensuring the preservation of your personal injury settlement.

While anything obtained during marriage is often seen as shared, a good personal injury lawyer can challenge this and write a settlement that works in your favor.

Author's Bio: 

Find out if your spouse can receive your personal injury claim settlement. Get answers and learn how a personal injury lawyer can help protect your rights.