Unfortunately, research indicates that about 58% of all marriages in Ohio result in divorce. This statistic is discouraging for people who expected to spend their whole lives married to their spouses. When you also have to deal with a personal injury on top of things like marriage issues, everything is so much harder, and at times, personal injury can be one factor that causes strife in a marriage, so there’s a lot at stake.
If you had or will have a personal injury settlement and are going through a divorce, you may be wondering if your spouse is entitled to your settlement. The short answer is yes. However, the answer is more nuanced than you may think, but the law does make the answer to this question relatively clear.
Marital and Separate Property in Ohio
To understand the answer to this question, you must understand what marital and separate property is in Ohio. These two classifications suggest which assets are splits and which ones are kept separate in divorce proceedings.
The first classification is marital property. Marital property tends to be:
- Retirement accounts
- Marital assets
The marital property represents the things that you share as a couple and the life you have built together.
Separate property includes:
- Assets from before marriage
Your separate property represents the parts of your life that you build yourself, independently from your marriage, so if you have a house before you are married, that house remains separate property. Your body, for example, is something that you have autonomy over, which is why your pain and suffering is yours alone and damages related to that don’t have to be split.
There are also some parts of settlements that can be considered marital property. For example, medical costs and lost wages could be parts of your settlement that your spouse is entitled to. Why is this? Well, these kinds of costs are an expense that both partners may pay after an accident. Other compensation like that for pain and suffering or emotional distress are often separate, so basically, the non-economic damages usually don’t have to be divided.
What Can My Spouse Get?
Your spouse can get part of the economic damages from your settlement. What your spouse gets will depend on what kind of assets you have and how your assets are divided. You may be able to reach a more desirable settlement with your spouse. It’s useful to hire a personal injury lawyer for these proceedings to make sure that you are getting the best out of your divorce.
Comparing Equitable and Equal
There’s a difference between equitable and equal division of assets. Partners do not always get the same amount of payout; rather, they get an equitable division of assets. The law strives to be equitable rather than just splitting everything in half and calling it a day.
For example, an equal divide is 50/50, but the equation takes into account will take into account the circumstances of the parties involved. Someone disabled from a personal injury, for example, could be more entitled to a bigger split of money if they are not the wage-earner of the household. Children and finances are other factors that are part of the equation to get an equitable split.
Can I Safeguard My Personal Injury Award
There is no way to eliminate any claim that your spouse or ex-spouse has on your settlement. Yet, a good lawyer can help you get the most benefits and get the most equitable split of assets. The law recognizes that your spouse is impacted by your personal injury and takes that into account when splitting assets.
What if I am Divorced Before the Settlement is Completed?
If you are divorced, and the personal injury happened before the divorce, your former spouse would still have a claim on your settlement, and the amount of this claim will depend partially on how much the personal injury impacted them.
How an Attorney Can Help
A qualified attorney can help you understand what you can do going forward. Divorces are tense, and they often come with a lot of emotional baggage that can make finding a resolution even harder. A consultation with a lawyer can help you understand what you can do to build a good case, and you can ask any outstanding questions that you have. An attorney will ensure you know your legal rights throughout the process, and they will help you negotiate the best terms for yourself. Your settlement is only as good as your lawyer!