What happens when one of the parties to a Florida Dissolution of Marriage action has a personal injury lawsuit pending for an incident that occurred prior to the date that a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage was filed? It can make both proceedings much more complicated.
Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. have experience in mediating these types of divorce situations. Most parties who go through a divorce with a potential personal injury settlement want to make sure that they receive enough money to live comfortably as they move forward in life as a single person.
At Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc., we have heard one spouse state “if she gets half of my pension, why don’t I get have of her personal injury settlement.” A personal injury settlement is not necessarily marital property in general terms, but there are some very specific exceptions to this rule. If the personal injury settlement statement itemizes what the award constitutes, it is a lot easier to distinguish how much of it would be considered to be marital property. Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators have found that delineating what portion of a personal injury settlement can be a point of contention for the spouse who is not a party to the personal injury lawsuit. This is especially true because Florida is an equitable distribution state which means that as an equitable distribution state, the court is guided by principles of equity which means that both the husband and wife should be treated in a fair manner when dividing assets and liabilities.
Any portion of the settlement for past medical bills which had been originally paid with marital funds is most likely a marital asset that needs to be allocated between the parties. In addition, any portion of a settlement for loss of income during the marriage would also likely be considered as a marital asset. However, the portion of the settlement that is for pain and suffering, loss of future income and future medical is not generally a marital asset.
On the other hand, a personal injury settlement can impact whether or not spousal support is necessary. An award of spousal support is based upon the duration of the marriage and each person’s earning capacity as well their ability to work, If the personal injury settlement awards a spouse compensation for a loss of future income, it can affect the necessity of spousal support and/or the amount of spousal support that is necessary.
Just as is the case with spousal support, a personal injury settlement may affect whether one spouse or the other is entitled to receive a portion of his or her attorney fees paid by the other spouse.
Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. have found that sometimes it is beneficial to have a spouses’ personal injury attorney available to answer questions about what components the settlement is made up.