If you've been involved in an accident, you have the right to compensation for your injuries, especially if the accident was not your fault. If you're married, you'll probably want your spouse to share in the settlement. However, if you and your spouse are having marital problems, that could become a problem for you once your settlement arrives. The last thing you want is to have your spouse file for divorce, and take half your insurance settlement. If you're going through a personal injury case, and you're contemplating divorce, here are four steps you need to take to protect your settlement:
Notify Your Attorney as Soon as Possible
If you and your spouse were already having marital issues at the time of the accident, you need to let your attorney know right away. If you and your spouse started having marital problems following the accident, you need to tell your attorney as soon as you recognize the problems. Your attorney will need time to take the necessary steps to protect your settlement, and prevent it from becoming community property.
Determine What is Personal and What is Marital
If you've decided to share your settlement with your spouse as part of the marital separation agreement, you'll need to determine what will be your personal assets, and what will become part of the marital assets. Sitting down with your attorney ahead of time will ensure that you're able to maintain control of your settlement, and determine the amount you wish to provide as marital property.
Open a Separate Bank Account
Once a settlement is reached, the money will be deposited into a bank account for you. Before the settlement is reached, go down and open an individual account for yourself. When you receive the settlement, have it deposited into your individual account. Don't deposit it into your joint account. Once you do that, the money becomes joint property, and you may need to split your settlement 50/50 with your spouse.
Don't List Your Spouse on a Claim
If you and your spouse were injured together, such as in a car accident, be sure to hire your own attorney. Filing a case together could combine the settlement into one package deal, which could lead to an unfair split, especially if you receive significantly worse injuries in the accident. To ensure the proper allocation, and avoid co-mingling your insurance settlement, be sure to hire your own personal injury attorney.
Contact a law office like Wolter, Beeman, Lynch & Londrigan LLP for more information and assistance.