Is my spouse entitled to my workers compensation settlement if we divorce?
People worried about their workers compensation settlements and divorce are concerned whether their spouse will be entitled to their workers compensation settlement in a divorce. Courts in different cities and states have their own approach to entitlements to workers compensation settlements of a spouse in divorce. Your divorce lawyer can explain whether your court will likely apply the Analytic Approach, Mechanistic Approach or Unitary Approach to characterize workers compensation settlement in divorce.
If you are about to file a worker’s compensation case or are in the middle of your claim, tell the attorney, for your claim if you have a divorce case. If you have not yet filed for divorce, or your divorce is ongoing, the classification and division of marital property could be affected by your workers compensation case.
A majority of states take an analytic approach to separate portions of a settlement to be classified as separate or divisible community property. The court first identifies how much of the settlement represents pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is considered separate property not to be divided in the divorce. Your spouse may be entitled to their equitable share of the amount of the settlement that represents lost wages. It is important that your settlement order and judgment identify how much of a settlement is for pain and suffering and what may be for wages and reimbursed medical expenses.
A minority of states use the mechanistic approach and classify the entire settlement as marital property. Next, divorce courts in mechanistic states will make decisions about the distribution of the settlement based on their individual family laws and statutes that apply to workers compensation settlements and marital property.
The most infrequently used method to categorize workers compensation settlement money is the unitary approach which characterizes the entire settlement amount as separate property not subject to division in the divorce.