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Can a spouse take part of a personal injury settlement?

California is a fifty-fifty state when it comes to divorces. Additionally, personal injury awards are typically considered community property. This means that any settlement you receive from an injury would likely be split equitably between you and your spouse during a divorce.

There are exceptions, however.

Envisioning a situation in which a marriage might break up after a catastrophic injury is not difficult. If you or your spouse were to become paralyzed, suffer a brain injury or lose a limb to amputation, this could prove to be an unendurable stress on the partnership. It could also be a financial strain, leading you to seek compensation from the party at fault for the injuries.

The law in California would likely consider monetary awards for past wage loss (and perhaps future wage loss as well) to be eligible for division, assuming the following were true at the time of injury:

  • You and your spouse were living together
  • You had not received a judgment of separation or dissolution
  • The award was part of your community property

 However, monetary awards to the injured person for his or her pain and suffering is likely not eligible for such division.

Depending on your situation, there are a few things you might be able to do to hold on to court-awarded funds.

To obtain an accurate understanding of  your rights, it is important that you speak with an experienced attorney, who can guide you through a thorough analysis of the law. 

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