Divorce is a difficult time for anyone — but we all want what we feel we’re owed. And lawyers only become involved during a divorce when former partners can no longer agree on what each is owed. This becomes even more common when there are large assets like shared property or vehicles. It becomes almost guaranteed when kids are involved! But there are other situations that result in an ex-spouse becoming more likely to seek legal counsel.
Keep in mind, it’s always recommended you find counsel. This is true even for seemingly simple cases. Let’s say, for example, your “almost” ex-spouse is also tied up in court because of an injury sustained during a car accident. The spouse was not at fault. You expect a swift victory in court. Will this affect your divorce? Are you entitled to any monies won in such a verdict? The short answer is most likely, yes.
The long answer is more complicated. Let’s say you were already separated when you appeared in court to finalize the divorce. It’s the day of the divorce decree that matters here. By law, marital assets (any property obtained during the marriage) do not stop accruing until the day of the divorce. That means that if your former romantic interest has already won the personal injury case, you are probably entitled to your share.
However, there are a few hiccups people run into during cases like these. First, your ex-spouse will likely want to delay a personal injury victory until after the divorce to keep the entirety of the winnings. Could you argue that your partner was using delaying tactics to give you less than is owed? Sure. Would it sway a judge? That’s less likely. Keep in mind, though, that the personal injury lawyer is only paid when they win in most cases. That means they want to win quickly, and won’t necessarily allow the client to delay unless it benefits both parties. It might.
Not sure whether or not you have a claim to someone’s personal injury winnings? Your divorce lawyer will help. Go now or forever hold your piece, as it were.
There’s one more thing you might keep in mind when deciding whether or not to claim the personal injury recovery obtained by your spouse as a joint asset before the divorce is finalized. Alimony is a long-term payment plan, but it usually doesn’t come all at once. Depending on your partner’s financial circumstances, you might be able to request a lump-sum alimony payment because they have a settlement check in the bank. You might also be more able to make this argument if the personal injury verdict is forthcoming.
This is a better option if you won’t necessarily be entitled to an equal split of those settlement winnings. The reason is simple: some damages are monetary while others are not. Hospital bills? Monetary. Pain and suffering? Not monetary. Of course, that’s another question for your lawyer to answer and explain in time.