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I received a settlement from an auto accident 3 years ago. My husband now wants a divorce - is he entitled to any of these funds

Seattle, WA |

Last week after he informed me that he wanted a divorce, he took half the money out of the account in which the settlement was deposited. I understood that the settlement for my pain, suffering and further surgeries was mine alone. Is he entitled to these funds because Washington is a community property state?

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Attorney answers 3


Generally, speaking the answer is no. Washington is a community property state. What this generally means is that all income received or property acquired while two parties are married, subject to some exceptions such as property acquired by gift or inheritance, the proceeds of a personal injury award and or the profits or earnings of separate property (which are the separate property), is considered community property. Separate property is generally that which you earned or acquired before you married and/or after you separate from your spouse, as well as those items also identified above.

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Mr. Lundberg is correct- the portion of the award that is yours separately is the part for pain and suffering. If you wind up filing for dissolution, be sure to show the Court what happened - and when - with this money. The Court has the ability to make him return these funds to you. Hope this helps. Elizabeth Powell


the court will probably consider personal injury award separate property, under the theory that you were the one who experienced the pain and suffering, not him.

However, both community and separate property are before the court for division at divorce, so, the fact that it is separate, doesn't necessarily mean you get it and he doesn't.