Yes, your spouse could be entitled to some of your personal injury settlement. If you and your spouse file for divorce, parts of your settlement could be considered marital property and subject to an equitable split between the two of you. Other parts of the settlement are separate property, which you keep.
What Is the Difference Between Marital and Separate Property?
Divorce can lead to a lot of arguments over who owns what. To help settle these debates, laws outline specific definitions of what counts as property owned by you both as a couple and what counts as property owned by you individually. Marital property typically includes:
- Assets purchased during the marriage
- Retirement accounts
For example, if you purchased a house together after you were married, that house is jointly owned by both spouses. Likewise, wages you earned while married are marital property. By contrast, separate property can include:
- Assets you had prior to marriage
If you purchased a house on your own before getting married, that is your own property, not marital property. Inheritance left to you individually is also separate property since only you are a hereditary heir, not your spouse.
What Part of a Settlement is Marital?
A 1986 ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court established which parts of a settlement are marital and separate. Your spouse could be entitled to the following:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
As a married couple, you both likely paid for medical expenses after the accident, making the compensation for those expenses marital property. Likewise, since income is marital property, then compensation for lost income is naturally also marital property.
What Part of the Settlement is Separate?
Separate property applies to damages like:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Reduced earning ability
- Loss of consortium
These are non-economic damages, meaning they compensate a victim for what they experienced as a result of their injury. Pain and suffering can include mental anguish and physical discomfort.
Loss of consortium is unique in that it is generally given to your spouse if you were injured in a way that prevented them from enjoying intimacy with you. Since it is the spouse who receives the loss of consortium damages for your injury, they are entitled to keep those damages.
For a free legal consultation, call 404-214-2001
What Is the Difference Between Equitable and Equal?
The part of your settlement that is considered marital property is subject to an equitable division between you and your spouse. Despite sounding similar, equitable does not mean equal. In other words, your damages for medical expenses and lost income are not split exactly in half and divided between you and your spouse.
For example, let’s say one spouse is the wage-earner while the other spouse is unable to work due to a disability and cares for the children. An equal split of assets may be fine with the wage-earning spouse, but the disabled spouse may still struggle. An equitable split may mean more is provided to the disabled parent.
Put simply, equitable division is focused less on a 50/50 split and more on a fair split. In the case of your personal injury settlement, that can mean your spouse could be entitled to a larger or smaller portion, depending on your situation.
What Does Equitable Division Look Like?
All property divisions in divorce settlements are tailored to each couple’s situation.
That being said, when pursuing an equitable split, some factors that are often considered include each spouse’s:
When Should You Consult a Lawyer?
Our personal injury lawyers can answer any questions about your settlement during your free consultation, including ones related to divorce. We don’t want you to be in the dark about any legal matter related to your injury.
If you are about to or currently undergoing divorce proceedings while simultaneously dealing with a personal injury case, we can discuss your options as both situations develop.
We are available 24/7 to address your concerns and will keep you updated while your case is ongoing. That includes discussing how your divorce may affect how much you keep from your settlement depending on when you receive it.
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Get Answers Today with a Free Case Review!
The attorneys at Kaine Law can explain all of the details of how injury compensation works, including during divorce. Your spouse may be entitled to your personal injury settlement, but only in part.
Contact our office at (404) 214-2001 so we can start evaluating your situation today.