Divorce is often a challenge when injuries lead to the breakup — even if it is not the only reason. It often leads to feelings of betrayal, but you might still have a chance for fair treatment.
Specifically, you might be able to get what you deserve from a personal injury settlement. However, like many things in family law, it would depend on your unique goals and your factual situation.
Can you get a share of a spouse’s personal injury settlement?
As explained on FindLaw, there is a specific type of personal injury award or settlement that pays for pain and suffering. This is important because you might not have a claim to this portion of the settlement.
Divorce law in New Jersey aims to divide your marital property fairly. However, even before that, you would need to decide which portion of your property is something you share with your spouse and which portion is something you own privately.
Who received compensation for pain and suffering?
Assuming that your spouse got the injury and the settlement payment during your marriage, you would probably want to look at the exact wording of the documents involved. How much of that money was for expenses that you incurred as a couple? Payments for medical bills, compensation for lost time of work and other economic damages tend to represent a mutual burden. Therefore, you might be able to access some of those funds. On the other hand, your spouse’s pain and suffering would probably be something you do not share.
It bears mentioning that New Jersey does not have a hard cap on noneconomic damages in personal injury settlements. If your spouse suffered a terrible injury that caused a great deal of pain, their portion of the settlement that counts as personal property could be much larger than the marital portion.