What Happens to Your Money From a Personal Injury Settlement if You Get Divorced?
You are injured in a car accident. You receive a settlement for $100,000. You and your spouse get divorced a year later. What happens to the money? Because you were the one injured, do you have to share it with your spouse?
The answer is: it depends. There is no clear-cut answer as to what will happen to your settlement. Under the Texas Family Code, Texas is a community property state, and any property in the possession of either spouse at the time of divorce is considered community property.
But that’s not the only consideration. If your vehicle was damaged in the accident, you might receive the compensation if your spouse did not contribute to the cost of the car. Income, however, is always community property, so you and your spouse will likely split those damages.
The judge may also analyze the settlement and look at how much you receive for certain types of damages. For example, you might get to keep your compensation for pain and suffering, but your spouse may receive damages for lost income, especially if he or she took time off to care for you.
In an effort to save time, the judge may simply divide the settlement 50/50. The final outcome of the settlement will be based on the facts of the case. Each situation is different, so there can be differing arguments as to why certain aspects of the settlement would be considered marital assets, while others would not be.
In any case, it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to keep the full settlement in a divorce. That’s because separate money is often commingled in a marriage. Both parties use the money, even though it is intended for one party only. That’s a common mistake, but a huge one when a lot of money is at stake.
Protecting Your Settlement
If you receive a settlement before a divorce, all is not lost. There are some ways to protect your money. If you are considering divorce at the time of your settlement, let your personal injury attorney know. You will then need to obtain the services of a family law attorney to advise you of your next steps. You will need to work closely with both lawyers to ensure your legal rights—and money—are protected.
Keep your settlement money in a separate account. Instead of keeping the settlement money in a separate account, most make the mistake of keeping it in a joint account. This makes the money the property of both parties. Protect yourself and your money by taking the time to open a new account.
Contact a Texas Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you are expecting to receive a personal injury settlement soon, you’ll want to make sure the money is protected in the event of a divorce. Even if you are the one receiving money in settlement, your spouse could also receive his or her fair share once the marriage ends.
A Texas personal injury lawyer at The Lovett Law Firm can advise you of your next steps so you can protect your money. Call our office today at (915) 757-9999 or contact us online to request a free consultation.