Is a wife legally obligated to equally share the proceeds of settlement of an auto accident in which onlyshe was involved?

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Is a wife legally obligated to equally share the proceeds of settlement of an auto accident in which onlyshe was involved?

Asked on July 11, 2011 under Family Law, Colorado

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your spouse's rights remain the same as if you were in a stable marriage (unless there is a legal separation agreement to the contrary).  However, if the settlement is to compensate for injuries, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, or medical bills that do not have any impact on the marital estate, then it is considered separate property and should be awarded in full to the injured person. 

Note:  In some jurisdictions, courts have held that a personal injury settlement is marital property in the following situations: commingling assets by accepting the entire settlement in 1 check made payable to both parties; compensation for lost wages; and medical bills that have an impact on the marital estate.  In addition, in cases where there is a lower settlement amount than what would have otherwise occurred (i.e. due to low policy limits or a lack of funds from the responsible part), a court is withing its power to allocate a portion of the settlement to lost wages even though the settlement indicates that it is for personal injury only.

At this point you need to consult directly with a CO divorce attorney as to your specific situation.


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