I separated from my spouse and soon filed for a divorce (CA). The divorce was finalized 6 months after. Before the divorce is finalized I became a party to a class action employment suit and anticipate a potential settlement. Please note the settlement, if any, will be awarded 1 and 1/2 year after divorce finalized. The cause of action for this lawsuit, however, was after separation and after the divorce was filed and it was around 2 months shy of divorce being finalized. Can my ex have a claim to any of my personal settlement in case I receive any, as a result of my personal action brought against my employer? (BTW - I was married for less than a year w/no kids or shared property- No child support or alimony exist in the divorce)
It depends on what the settlement is for. If it is for unpaid compensation earned during the period between date of marriage and date of separation then it could be community property. In this case your ex would have a claim .
You write the "cause of action" was after separation. What does that mean? It is not clear to me you understand when a cause of action accrues.
If the cause of action accrued AFTER separation, then there is no community property interest in the settlement but the potential recovery should be disclosed in any required written disclosures.
However, if any component of the potential settlement is community property, e.g., based upon wages earned during marriage and prior to separation, your ex may have a community property interest.
You should also know that certain types of settlements are awarded solely to the injured spouse, unless the interests of justice require a different result, even if they are community property.
For more on this issue and the complexities, see Family Code sections 780-783.
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Please take heed of attorney Daymude's observations and advice. I too want to know how much, if any, of the time giving rise to the settlement occurred during marriage before separation.
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