Ask A Lawyer: Do Accident Claims Enter Into The Divorce Settlement?


My soon to be ex-wife and I were in an accident about two years ago and we have a pending law suit in which the initial claim is two million dollars.

Since my wife is filing for divorce, does this potential settlement enter into the financial affairs of the divorce and accordingly marital property?






Assuming the accident lawsuit and the divorce are both pursued in Indiana, the laws of Indiana will control how the settlement impacts the divorce.  If more than one state is involved in the two legal actions, there may be other considerations.  Without a complete review of all the circumstances of both cases it is not possible to determine all the legal issues which may arise.

The actual settlement or judgment amount for the accident lawsuit and how it is structured will determine the specific application to the divorce.  The accident lawsuit may result in awards that are marital property or which substitute for income thereby affecting support obligations.  You may wish to have the settlement structured in a particular manner to fit in with any divorce settlement or issues.  Conversely, the entry of a divorce before the accident lawsuit is resolved may impact the settlement due to the change from spouses to individuals, either as to the financial awards or, if you are both represented by the same lawyer in the accident suit, whether new counsel for one or both of you may be warranted.

You should consult a qualified domestic litigation firm which will coordinate with your attorney in the accident lawsuit to address these issues.


Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.

Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues. 

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