Do Workers’ Comp Benefits Get Divided in Divorce?
Divorce can strike at the most inopportune times in one’s life. Starting a brand-new business? Illness? Loss of loved ones? While we can always try to delay the inevitable, divorce can happen no matter what unfortunate events are taking place in your life. A workers’ compensation claim may be pending at the time of your divorce, as well. When a worker’s compensation claim is pending, many people are expecting funds to help them pay medical bills and get by until they are able to return to work. So, should they have to share those future anticipated funds with a spouse they are divorcing? Miami divorce attorneys are frequently asked to assess this very issue.
What is Subject to Division in a Divorce?
Florida’s equitable distribution statute outlines the details of how assets and income are distributed in a divorce. Pretty much any form of income or asset is subject to property distribution, with some limited exceptions, such as:
- Particular inheritance funds that are specifically kept separate
- Property owned prior to marriage and not commingled with marital property
- Gifts that are specifically made to one spouse and not mixed with marital property
- Anything subject to exclusion by written agreement
- Personal injury benefits received by one spouse (in some cases)
Why Would Workers’ Comp Benefits be Divided?
Workers’ compensation is meant to pay back a worker for the losses incurred by a work injury. If you think about it, if the injury occurred during the marriage, then the injured person’s spouse suffers a loss of income too. The family as a whole loses out on that income. Medical bills affect everyone in the marriage, not just the victim. Therefore, if money is received to compensate for the loss, it is subject to potential division as a marital asset. The question is whether there is an itemization of benefits, with a portion allocated to compensated for lost income. Such benefits are subject to division.
Understanding the Concept of Commingling
When a person receives assets or income that are otherwise exempt from division, such as most personal injury recoveries in Florida, mixing those assets with marital property can change how it is treated. Here are a few examples:
- One spouse receives a gift of $10,000 from family during the marriage. He places the funds into a joint account with his wife. The funds are now marital assets subject to property division, as they have been commingled.
- One spouse receives workers’ compensation benefits that are itemized. Part of the benefit is payable to reimburse for medical bills, while other benefits are paid as compensation for lost earnings and wages. The portion itemized to pay for lost earnings would be subject to division as a marital asset.
Get Real Answers to All Your Divorce and Family Court Questions
When you are facing a divorce or other family court matter in Florida, it is extremely important to contact a skilled family law attorney as early as possible to avoid mistakes that can cost you thousands. Call the Sejour-Gustave Law Firm, PLLC today, and speak with an attorney about your case.