Ongoing lawsuit prior to marriage

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Ongoing lawsuit prior to marriage

I am involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit that happened while I was engaged. It will not be settled prior to my marrying later this year. Will any money that I receive be considered marital property or only mine? My reason for asking is if it is marital, I don’t want my husband’s ex-wife trying to get him to use that money to settle up his debts with her.

Asked on February 10, 2017 under Family Law, Ohio

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It really depends on how the settlement is structured.  Most of your settlement should be structured for your losses prior to the marriage.  Any part of this settlement structured this way, can be considered your separate property.  To protect separate property assets, keep the funds in a separate account in your name only to make it clear they are separate property.  Your husband's ex-wife cannot force your husband to use your property to pay his debts.  If a settlement is structured such that it compensates for losses while you and your husband were married, then those assets would be considered community assets of the marriage.  However, his ex-wife can only go after his share of the community estate....not your share of the community estate. 
So...before you agree to any settlements... talk this issue over with your med malpractice attorney.  Have them pay medical providers directly, rather than coming through you.  Have them word agreements to protect any separate property interests you may have in the settlement.


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