A past personal injury settlement awarded to you or your spouse may find its way as a point of contention in your divorce proceedings. The state of residence and other circumstantial factors may determine how the settlement is divided between spouses. Many states have a guide to help residents evaluate settlement awards and how much should be divided to each spouse in a divorce.
It is possible in some cases that the settlement is considered communal property in some cases and is therefore undivided. In most cases, however, a personal injury award is likely that a portion would be considered communal property.
What is Communal Property?
Communal property is considered by many states as all income acquired during marriage. Even if one spouse earned the most if not all the income, the entirety of the amount may be considered joint income of both spouses.
If the state of residence considers a personal injury settlement as personal income, then the settlement is also considered communal property, too. Some states consider some assets, including some portions of settlement awards, as separate from personal income in divorce proceedings. There are several components of a settlement and they should be discussed in order to determine how they affect divorce proceedings.
A Personal Injury Settlement’s Components
A compensation for pain and suffering is usually considered only individual property because only the individual experiences that type of emotional turmoil for which they are receiving compensation. They validate the pain the person experienced as a result if their injury. If the liable party is responsible due to extreme negligence or wrongdoing, then they may be rewarded as as a punitive damage.
Compensation for medical bills is often included in a settlement award and is also considered individual property. Depending on the severity of the injuries sustained, the division of medical treatment compensation may vary distinctly.
Loss of income, another common installment of personal injury compensation, is more likely considered communal property rather than personal because it could be used to support a spouse.
After discussing the nuances of division of personal injury settlements in divorce proceedings, it seems clear that hiring a divorce lawyer will be of the most benefit to you when navigating the complicated process of divorce. If you are struggling with questions concerning your personal injury award and whether is will be divided between you and your ex-spouse, then you must hire a divorce attorney to handle the proceedings.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Scroggins Family Law, PLLC for their insight into divorce law.