Q: Wife was in an accident last March 2017. Vehicle was in my name. The girl responsible for the accident insurance company offered wife a settlement and she declined stating she was getting a personal injury attorney to represent her. (Circa September/October 2017) The personal injury attorney tells us we will get about 20K settlement. Wife and I have a conversation (both in-person and through text) since receiving that information up until April 21, 2018 about how we planned on utilizing the money. (i.e., Investing it, down payment for a new car, etc., etc.) Then April 24, 2018 she leaves me and files for divorce in June 2018. Since then our divorce has been at a standstill because she refuses to give me any of the settlement payout. So, if the divorce gets finalized before she receives the payout, am I still entitled to the settlement? Also, if the settlement gets paid out to her and our divorce isn’t finalized, am I still entitled to the settlement? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: The only time frame that matters is what was your marital status when the accident occurred. When the proceeds of the settlement are paid does not matter. There is new case law on this, so I advise you to consult with an experienced family law attorney. As the law stands now, if the accident occurred between the date of marriage and the date of separation, the proceeds of the settlement are marital property.