While the subject of property division might seem easy, it can quickly become confusing when personal injury award settlements are involved. The time you receive the compensation and the types of damages you are being compensated for determine whether it becomes marital property or not.
Settlements can come before the union is officiated, during the marriage, or after the divorce is finalized. The laws governing this subject might be applied differently depending on the circumstances. Tampa Bay criminal and injury attorneys can explain different scenarios and the various possibilities for your case.
How are Monetary Assets Divided in Divorce in Florida?
In Florida, money and property in a divorce are usually classified as either marital or non-marital. Whatever has been acquired during the marriage is marital property. This means that both you and your soon-to-be-ex jointly own it.
Marital property is usually divided equitably. Notably, equitably doesn’t always mean that you and your spouse get equal shares of everything jointly owned. It also doesn’t mean that the property cannot be shared equally.
How is Marital Property Classified in Florida?
Marital property is basically any property or monetary asset that you and your spouse acquired during the marriage. It is essential to note the correct timelines to avoid confusion and misinterpretation of the law.
Anything you or your spouse acquired from the day you tied the knot becomes marital property. However, the acquisition of marital property does not stop upon separation. Instead, it runs until the judge’s final divorce decree is issued.
What Qualifies as Non-Marital Property in Florida?
Non-marital property is any property you or your spouse acquired before getting married in Florida. However, you can also acquire property during the marriage, and it fails to be considered non-marital property.
Inheritances and gifts are generally non-marital property even if you received them during the marriage. If you are not certain on whether a particular property is a candidate for equitable distribution or not, consider consulting with a knowledgeable attorney first.
Is Workers’ Comp Marital or Non-Marital Property?
Personal injury benefits aren’t considered marital property if received before you got into marriage. Also, if you are set to receive the workers’ comp benefits after the divorce is finalized, it might be treated as the personal property of one spouse.
If you seek to determine whether your workers’ compensation benefits are a non-marital asset, consult with Tampa workers’ compensation lawyers. Certainty can make the divorce battle more bearable with fewer surprises.
How Does Itemization of a Settlement Award Impact Divisibility?
Your soon-to-be-ex can claim your workers’ comp in divorce only if the settlement contains an itemized description. For instance, specific amounts might have been apportioned to various economic and non-economic damages.
Your spouse might successfully claim:
- The amount awarded for loss of consortium
- Part of lost earnings
You might be able to retain the money awarded for:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Remember, the division of the qualifying itemized items can affect the quality of life you will afford afterward. A seasoned attorney can ensure that the outcome is favorable for you.
Is My Workers’ Compensation ‘Safe’ if it Wasn’t Itemized?
It is worth noting that many award settlements in Florida are never itemized. And if the divorce court cannot determine what specific damages were covered, it might find it impossible to divide it between you and your spouse.
In such cases, the workers’ compensation might remain solely with the injured spouse. However, if your spouse finds the itemized list used during settlement negotiations, the court might use it for the divorce.
What Happens When Compensation Funds are Co-Mingled?
Sometimes, the workers’ compensation funds can co-mingle with other marital funds. The compensatory damages can be treated as marital property if the court cannot determine what belongs to the settlement and the marital estate.
Co-mingling happens when the personal injury settlement is deposited into a joint checking account. Other paychecks and incomes might have been deposited into the same account. And you could have also offset bills such as household expenses, car payments, and mortgages from the same account.
What if Injury Related Bills Used Marital Funds?
It often takes months before a judge finalizes a compensation case and awards a settlement. More often than not, marital funds offset most of the medical bills. Divisibility can be confusing when the payment comes without being itemized.
The court usually sorts this problem by removing the exact amount from the settlement and placing it in the marital estate. An experienced Workers’ compensation attorney in Tampa can assist in ascertaining the medical bills reasonably to ensure that you get what you deserve.
Why is an Attorney Necessary for My Case?
Division of personal injury awards and settlements in divorce can be complex in Florida. For instance, you might have to trace settlement money if it mixes with other joint funds. And it is a difficult and expensive process.
Depending on the specifics of your circumstances, you will need the help of experienced and knowledgeable Florida workers’ compensation lawyers. They will use their expertise to ensure that you get out with enough funds to sustain you post-divorce.
Legal Guidance from Professional Attorneys in Tampa
A blanket answer to whether your spouse will receive part of your workers’ compensation or not, does not exist. Instead, the specifics of your case usually determine it. However, investing in proper legal representation is critical in getting better outcomes. The more you get out of the divorce, the better you will cope with life afterward.
Remember that your soon-to-be-ex has probably invested in an excellent legal team and is strategizing on reaping maximum benefits from your workers’ compensation funds. Therefore, you need an attorney that can match or exceed their lawyer’s expertise. Speak to the qualified criminal and injury attorneys at our law firm to get started.