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Injury Compensation Considered Marital Property in Divorce

Posted on in BGL Law
Injury Compensation Considered Marital Property in DivorceFor people who have suffered serious injuries, their monetary compensation can be vital to supporting themselves. Compensation can come in multiple forms, including a personal injury settlement, workers' compensation benefits and disability benefits. The injury victims need the monetary award because:

  • The short- and long-term medical costs can be exorbitant;
  • They may have lost significant wages while recovering from injury; and
  • Their injuries may prevent them from obtaining employment for an indefinite period.

If you are going through a divorce, you may assume that you can keep all of your injury compensation. It seems only fair because you are the person who went through the pain and suffering and are still being affected by it. However, Illinois courts have consistently ruled that money accrued due to injury is marital property.

Defining Marital Property

Illinois divorce law states that all properties and assets acquired during a marriage are presumed to be marital properties, unless proven otherwise. Non-marital properties are defined as those that are:

  • Obtained before a marriage;
  • Received as a gift or part of an inheritance;
  • Excluded in an agreement from being marital property; or
  • Awarded from one spouse to the other in a legal judgment.

Illinois courts have determined that this definition of non-marital property does not apply to personal injury settlements, workers' compensation benefits and disability benefits. Thus, each spouse may be entitled to a share of the injury compensation money. The court considers the entire value of the settlement or benefits, not limiting it to what was accrued during the marriage.

Determining Division

People who are disabled due to an injury have argued that defining their settlement or benefits as marital property makes them financially vulnerable after a divorce. However, courts have said that Illinois divorce law provides protection for people with disabilities. The law instructs courts to consider factors such as age, health and employability when dividing marital properties. People who are limited in their ability to work can receive a larger share of the injury compensation and the marital properties as a whole. The disabled party can appeal a court's division of property if he or she believes the court did not properly consider his or her disability. The higher court can overturn the decision if it decides that the lower court was not reasonable in dividing the properties.

Protecting Your Financial Stability

Illinois divorce law recognizes that people who have suffered severe injuries may be limited in their ability to earn a living. A McHenry County divorce attorney with Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can advocate for the share of marital properties that you need to support yourself. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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