22 Jun Divorce Settlements and Personal Injury Awards
Divorces can often be hotly contested and quite brutal to go through. The old adage goes that divorcing spouses often fight over the pettiest of things, like dividing up the pots and pans. But what about something a little more abstract, like a personal injury award? Here is a simple guide to understanding how personal injury awards are distributed during a divorce settlement.
To better understand how South Carolina courts will divide marital assets, including those acquired during the marriage, it is best to understand the framework in which the courts work. South Carolina, like a majority of other states, distributes the marital assets in a divorce under a theory of equitable distribution. Equitable distribution, despite what its name might suggest, does not mean an equal division of assets, but a fair division of assets.
South Carolina spouses have a right to all marital property, which is why the court is able to divide the property amongst the spouses. However, the court cannot divide non-marital property. Non-marital property in South Carolina is property that was acquired by a spouse in any of the following ways:
- By inheritance or gift to one spouse alone during marriage
- Acquired before the marriage
- Excluded ownership by a written contract like a prenuptial agreement
Once it is decided whether or not an asset is marital property, the court considers a number of factors in deciding how to split up those assets. These include but are not limited to:
- Length of the marriage
- Age of parties
- Value of the marital property
- Contribution of each spouse to the value of the marital property
- Physical and emotional health of each spouse
- The non-marital property of each spouse
- Tax consequences of the division of property
- Liens or debt on the marital property
- Any other relevant factors
Not So Personal Injury Awards
The short answer of whether or not your spouse can get a personal injury award in your divorce is yes, but only if the injury occurred during the marriage. The long answer is a bit more complicated than that.
As discussed above, a South Carolina court has to divide all marital assets in a divorce. If you or your spouse suffered a personal injury during your marriage, then any settlement, awards, or compensation for that injury is considered a marital asset just like any other property acquired during the marriage under South Carolina law. It does not matter if the money was actually received during the time of the marriage. The financial interest in the potential compensation that a spouse might receive is also a marital asset and factored into the valuation.
How much each spouse will get depends on a number of factors, just like any other marital asset in the marriage. It does not matter that only one spouse may be injured; the award for that injury is up for division.
Get More for Your Personal Injury
Divorces are often considered one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. In a hotly contested divorce, you need skilled representation to best represent your interests and fight for what you have worked hard for. Contact Klok Law Firm LLC for expert assistance if you are considering divorce or going through divorce proceedings in Charleston or the Mt. Pleasant Area.