Do I have to divide a personal injury award in divorce?

You would probably not have to divide all of your personal injury settlement or award if you got divorced. Missouri law differentiates between marital and nonmarital elements of payments you received for injuries.

This is a particularly complex area of the law, and there are many ways that a divorce might affect your personal injury assets. The process depends on several factors. Please read more about the details below, but please remember that this area of the law often requires personal analysis.

The first major factor is whether you decided to negotiate the relevant property division terms of your divorce. If you were able to reach a mutually favorable arrangement with your spouse, you could conceivably divide your property in any way you choose. The court would then simply review your final arrangement and decide on its legality.

If you were pursuing a litigated divorce, the court might divide the marital portion of your injury settlement. FindLaw indicates in a general article on the subject that your personal injury money would be yours after divorce, but the judge would probably make a more complex decision based on relevant precedents set in Missouri case law.

This may include any debts you incurred and awards intended to repay those debts. Another possible exclusion might be the non-economic damages for pain and suffering. Finally, the court could also exclude some or all of the settlement or award you received to compensate you for loss of earning potential or lost time at work.

In negotiations, it would probably be your priority to ensure that you got a similar or better deal than you would under litigation. At a trial, you would probably want to explain to the court how each asset you intend to retain is yours and yours alone. 

Every divorce is complex, but those involving injuries are often even more so. This is not advice pursuant to any material situation. It is only intended as background information.

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