The Three Things You Must Do to Protect Your Personal Injury Settlement in a Divorce
If you have been involved in a serious accident and awarded a large personal injury settlement, then you must treat this settlement as an asset. If you are divorcing, you might wonder: Does my spouse automatically get half of my settlement? The answer is that it depends. However, there are a few things you can do to increase the chances you can keep the entirety of your settlement.
Every Situation is Different
It is important to understand that no two cases are identical. While we can provide general information and advice on what most people can do to help reduce the chances that they will not maintain all or the bulk of their settlement, this will not cover all cases. We suggest you contact an attorney right away if you are concerned about filing a personal injury case and/or worried about the implications of a divorce.
It Matters When the Injury Occurred
One of the most important factors affecting who has a right to the settlement is when the accident happened in relation to your marriage. If the injury occurred before you were married and you have been receiving payments before the marriage, then it is very likely that the settlement will be considered your property and not community property.
On the other hand, if the injury occurred during the marriage then it can be more complex. While various courts have disagreed about how these funds should be treated, it has generally been decided that it depends on the type of damage being awarded. For example, if you are compensated for your medical bills then that is likely to belong only to you, while money you were compensated for lost wages is likely to belong to both of you.
Three Ways You Can Protect Your Settlement
There are three main actions you can take in an attempt to protect settlement money:
- Work with a family attorney. The sooner you talk to your personal injury attorney about the possibility of divorce, the sooner we can consult with a family law attorney to determine exactly how we can protect you in your specific situation.
- Ensure your damages are specific. We can request that the settlement includes very clear language about how much is being allocated to which category of damages. This can help prevent money that should be yours from being considered community property.
- Get a separate bank account. Something as simple as depositing your settlement into your own separate bank account can make it easier to keep the money separate. If you put it into a joint account, it can be much harder to determine how much of it went to joint expenses.
Of course, the most important thing is to talk to your personal injury attorney so that they can protect you. Contact Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas now at 909-982-0707 to request a free legal consultation.