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Is money from a medical malpractice lawsuit considered marital property especially if received in periodic installments?

Cleveland, OH |

Years ago, I won a medical malpractice lawsuit and have been receiving payments in installments from an insurance company ever since I became a legal adult. I will continue to receive periodic installments well up to age 65.
I will proudly be getting married later this year.
Thus, I am wondering if the installments I continue to receive every so years will be considered marital property? Because the suit occurred before marriage, are the monies exempt?

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Attorney answers 4


I believe that it would not be marital property in most states. However, you should consult with a lawyer in your state whose practice includes drafting of prenuptial agreements. Perhaps all you really need is a consultation to determine whether or not this would be come marital property in your state. In larger cities there are lawyers whose entire practice specialty is prenuptial agreements for rich people. I have one friend who says most of his work comes from wealthy parents insisting that their children get prenuptial agreements before walking down the aisle in order to protect the family fortune. You might start with a Google search for "Cleveland prenuptial agreement lawyer," compare the credentials of the top 10 or 20, and then call the 2 or 3 who seem like the best match for you.


State laws vary, but probably not, however, contact a lawyer in your state to confirm state law.

The answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and is for informational purposes only.

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If you were in one of the states where i practice, I would tell you that you're safe. Personal injury lawsuit proceeds are generally considered your separate property. As long as it doesn't later become co-mingled (say, in a joint bank account). And a prenuptial agreement would clarify this.

HOWEVER, you're not in my states. i don't know what Ohio law would say on this. I recommend having a conversation with a local Ohio family law specialist. It should be a very easy & quick answer.


Yes and no. Ohio law requires a court to determine (if there is a dispute over division of property) what is "marital" and what is "seperate" property. Seperate property is ususally given to that person. However, Ohio law allows the court to give "seperate property" to the other spouse if found to be reasonable, equitable and/or appropriate. See R.C. 3105.171 Equitable division of marital and separate property - distributive award. You can see the Ohio Revised Code for free on the Ohio Supreme Court's website. You should strongly consider getting a Prenuptial Agreement before getting married if you are concered about what will happen to these funds upon termination of the marriage. Unfortunately, "prenupts" are not bullet-proof in Ohio, but, they are better than nothing if the you-know-what hits the fan when the marriage goes south. Good luck and best wishes!

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