Divorce proceedings are already difficult to manage, especially the financial side of it. Once you add in a personal injury award, things can get terribly ugly. Both sides may feel entitled to the money, particularly if it is awarded in the middle of proceedings.
The most major factor of whether your spouse gets a cut of the money is how your state divides marital property. Then there is the matter of the sum of the award, the date of the incident and when the divorce was filed. After discussing the division of property in divorces, we will look at three ways you may be able to protect a personal injury award during divorce proceedings.
The Two Methods of Marital Property Division
If your state operates under community property division, then your marital estate is considered equal marital property. This includes all assets, such as money and property. Unless the divorce agreement states otherwise, the estate is divided equally between parties. Property gained before the marriage is separate from the marital estate.
States that use equitable distribution in property division allows the courts to divide the marital estate as they see fit and fair if the couple doesn’t come up with an agreement. The court considers what each spouse brought to the marriage and considers if some assets may be put towards alimony awards.
No matter the state, there are still some defenses to keep your money to yourself.
Methods to Protect Your Award
- Avoid Joint Financial Accounts with Your Spouse
You should create an account for the settlement with just your name on it. This way, their name is not on it and it may be arguably considered separate from your marital estate. If it is placed in your joint account, it will probably be argued that it indicates that the money was meant to be shared with your spouse.
- Understand the Terms of the Settlement
Some components of your settlement may be considered personal property and aren’t subject to division. Part of your settlement may cover physical damages that may have initially been compensated for by your joint finances. Other emotional damages may not be considered for division because the victim can be compensated for experiencing pain and suffering directly from the injury.
- Try to Use Personal Funds for Accident-Related Bills
If you use your joint bank account for everything, this could be difficult. Avoiding the use of marital funds for your accident can help you claim the full amount of teh personal injury in the divorce because it could be argued that it is separate from the funds meant to be shared between spouses.
Discuss with a Divorce Attorney
Consulting a divorce attorney will help you gain a better understanding of the laws revolving around your case and help you develop a strategy to keep your award. Make sure to look for an experienced attorney to ensure they have dealt with similar situations.
Finances can be the most difficult part of the divorce process and can take the most time to reconcile. With help from an attorney, you can get the support you need to make it through this difficult ordeal. Do not hesitate to reachout to divorce lawyers Phoenix AZ
Thank you to Hildebrand Law for providing insight on the relationship between personal injuries and divorce.