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Sheltering a personal injury award in a divorce

One of the questions that comes up from time to time in divorce is what a spouse can do to safeguard a personal injury award. After all, settlements and awards from lawsuits can often amount to huge sums and a divorcing partner might see dollar signs when it comes time for property division. Unfortunately, there are no one-size-fits-all rules for how settlements are divided in a divorce. In fact, division of this type of property depends on a wide variety of factors.

Some of these factors can include the nature of the damages themselves. This means that the court looks at whether the award was for lost wages, pain and suffering, damage to property, loss of companionship or other factors. Once this is determined, the courts can classify the assets as either marital property or non-marital property. Then, according to Illinois' equitable property division laws, the court will make a final ruling.

The most complicated cases come when the divorce happens in the middle of a suit or litigation when the award has not been announced or approved by the judge in the case.

Given the confusing nature of the subject, residents of Illinois will want to consider a few precautionary measures to protect this money. First, when the injured party claims damages, he or she must indicate which part is marital property and which is personal. Second, putting the settlement or award in a separate bank account can go a long way in proving that it is not marital property and thus not subject to division.

Finally, it may be advisable for the divorcing person with a personal injury claim to contact an attorney.

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Goddard & Malmquist
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