Do I have a claim to my wife’s personal injury settlement?
We have been separated for four years. During this separation period, she had a slip and fall personal injury that resulted in a large financial settlement.
Am I entitled to any of the settlement money she received since we are still legally married?
This answer only includes general divorce help for men since I am only licensed to practice in Oklahoma and am thus unable to provide any advice on divorce laws in other states.
In most states, the court will select a “date of separation” which will be the date the court will select based on the facts and law as the date the accumulation of marital property ceased.
The court will then look at a number of factors to determine when the separation occurred. Such factors the court may consider are:
2) whether the parties have engaged in marital relations;
3) whether the parties continue to file joint tax returns;
4) whether they continue to own property jointly;
5) whether they maintain joint bank and investment accounts;
6) whether the “hold themselves out as married” (i.e. the parties still appear to be married to the public); and
7) do the parties still wear their respective rings.
In your case, if you have been truly separated for four years, it is likely that the court would find that the “date of separation” was four years ago, and therefore you would not be entitled to a marital share of the award.
In a select number of states, the court will select the date of the filing for divorce as the date of separation. In other states, the court will select the date the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage is filed as the date of separation.
Regardless of state, though, there is a good chance that the court would find that any financial award may be subject to marital division.
Finally, yet another issue to consider is whether a award for her pain and suffering would be subject to marital division.
I recommend that you contact a mens divorce lawyer near you to provide you with legal advice on divorce and assist in any future proceedings.