Washington's community property divorce laws state that all income earned and property obtained during the marriage is subject to division during divorce. While it may be easy to handle certain assets such as real estate, processing other assets such as a structured personal injury settlement in divorce may be more complex.
When Structured Settlements Matter in a Divorce
In most cases, an insurer awards a structured settlement solely to a single spouse and it is therefore that spouse’s personal property. However, if an insurer awarded the settlement to you as a married couple, a judge may rule that the settlement is marital property. For example, if you and your spouse both sustained injuries in a car accident and won a settlement for your damages, Washington law may consider that settlement marital property.
If you alone received a structured settlement, either prior to the marriage or during it, through an event not related to your spouse, it is likely that you will be able to keep the whole settlement.
Does a Non-injured Spouse Have a Right to Settlement Payments?
If an insurer awarded the settlement to you only, your spouse may still be able to claim part of his payments if a judge has reason to rule that the settlement is community property, such as if the settlement was for the injury of a child.
Additionally, in cases where your personal injury led to the settlement, your spouse could claim part of the settlement if he was adversely affected due to your injuries. An example would be if you sustained injuries in a car accident alone and your spouse had to take over all the house chores and care for the children while you recovered.
Note that it will take a solid argument from a skilled divorce attorney, such as Molly B. Kenny, to build your claim to a part of your spouse's settlement.
Protecting Your Structured Settlement with a Bellevue Divorce Attorney
If you fear your spouse will try to claim part of your structured settlement payments or include them in alimony or child support decisions, you should bring your case to a divorce attorney at the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny for review.
Molly B. Kenny helps Washington couples through divorce with as little hassle as possible. Do not leave your finances to chance by arguing your own property division rights. Give me a call today for help protecting your structured settlement. Contact me at 425-460-0550.