A reader recently asked a question about what would happen to her personal injury settlement cash, for which she is currently being sued by her ex-spouse. We’ll call the defendant in this case Sue Ellen. The plaintiff is Nash. Sue Ellen wants to know if a personal injury settlement is considered marital property so she knows what to expect in court — how might a judge rule on the lawsuit against her?
We had to do a little digging, but we discovered there was more to Sue Ellen’s story. It turns out she was involved in a fairly horrific car accident. She was severely injured, but eventually recovered completely. Her former husband stood by her.
This is where the story takes a turn. Sue Ellen decided to launch a personal injury lawsuit against the party at fault for the car accident (which left one person dead, by the way). She won that lawsuit handily. The problem is, she conspired to keep the whole thing a secret from her husband. When it became clear she would win her lawsuit — which was worth six figures — she handed Nash divorce papers. He reluctantly signed.
Sue Ellen made a mistake by keeping the impending settlement from her former lover. She made an even bigger mistake by failing to mention these assets to her divorce attorney — and to the judge handling their divorce case. The divorce was finalized one year ago.
Now, Nash learned that Sue Ellen pulled one over on him (because a family friend told him she was living the high life). He reacted like anyone would, especially considered he was paying alimony: he filed a personal injury case of his own.
Interestingly, Sue Ellen should be more worried about going to jail than losing her money — because you can’t bring it with you. Should Nash go to the judge who ruled in their divorce case, he could ask for perjury charges to be filed against Sue Ellen. She could also face very steep fines for lying to the court. We’re honestly surprised this hasn’t happened yet, but maybe prosecutors are staying inside with COVID. Time will tell.
And now for the last part of the case. Nash has a better claim to the personal injury settlement Sue Ellen won — but hid — because she decided to break the law by hiding it. Her case certainly isn’t helped by the fact that she only decided to divorce Nash once she knew she would win that case.
Other factors include state laws determining what might be marital property and what might be personal or separate property. But judges generally don’t rule in favor of those who lie to them in a court of law.
You can view website attorneys to find out if your personal injury claim will end up in your ex-spouse’s hands. It’s always better to get a free consultation and share the details of your case before making any decisions that could change your life for better or worse.