Am I entitled to percentage of settlement that my husband received from a medical malpractice lawsuit?

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Am I entitled to percentage of settlement that my husband received from a medical malpractice lawsuit?

The lawsuit commenced 3 years ago; we married last year.

Asked on July 11, 2016 under Family Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, unless there is a legal separation agreement in effect, your spousal rights remain the same as if you were in a stable marriage. However, that having been said, if the settlement is to compensate for injuries, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, or medical bills that do not impact the marital estate, the settlement is considered to be separate property and therefore is fully awarded to the injured spouse. 
That having been said, some state courts have held that a personal injury settlement is marital property when: there has been a commingling assets by accepting the entire settlement in 1 check made payable to both spouses; it is for compensation for lost wages; and it's for medical bills that have an impact on the marital estate. Additionally, where there is a lower settlement amount than what would otherwise have occurred due to low policy limits or a lack of funds from the responsible party, a court may allocate a portion of the settlement award to lost wages even if the settlement indicates that it is for personal injury only.
At this point you need to consult directly with a divorce attorney as to your specific situation.


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