In North Carolina, a personal injury settlement award is not always safe from divorce.
For pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement or lost limbs, the award is considered separate property of the injured spouse and would not be divided in divorce. Loss of services and loss of consortium (claims available from your spouse) is also considered separate property of the non-injured spouse and would not be divided in divorce generally.
The party claiming the proceeds of a personal injury settlement as separate property must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the property meets the definition of separate property. This means that the party must prove it is more likely than not that the property was separate property.
For lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and medical expenses, the award is considered marital property, as it is repaying you for something you would have earned during the marriage.
All of this being said, if you separated prior to the injury occurring, your spouse likely has no claim against the proceeds of your settlement.
Our experienced family law attorney at Miller Law Group is here to help you determine how your personal injury settlement will factor into your equitable distribution within a divorce. Contact our office for a consultation today!
If you were recently injured and are in need of legal representation, we have experienced personal injury attorneys that can help as well!