For the most part, California's community property laws are fairly straightforward when it comes to dividing assets during a Pasadena divorce. Assets acquired during the marriage are community property, unless they are gifts or inheritances. However, certain assets, such as personal injury awards, fall into a sort of grey area.
California law states that personal injury awards can be considered community property as long as the injury that caused the award occurred during the marriage. If the injury that resulted in the award occurred before the marriage or while the spouses were living separately, the award would be considered the sole property of the person who was injured.
Now even though judges have the ability to award up to fifty percent of the personal injury award damages to the non-injured spouse, the award most often goes entirely to the injured person unless there are extenuating circumstances involved. The judge has the discretion to divide the award as he sees fit. Consideration will be given to factors such as the economic status and future earning potential of each spouse, as well as whether or not the non-injured spouse provided care to the injured spouse after the injury occurred, and the length of time that has passed since the injury occurred.
If you have children with your spouse, keep in mind that personal injury awards are not normally considered income for the purpose of determining child support. The only exception to this rule is if part of the settlement was specifically designated as compensation for a loss of future wages.
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Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at info@PasadenaLawOffice.com if you are in need of legal representation during your divorce. Our Pasadena divorce attorneys can help ensure that you receive a fair settlement that will allow you to move on to the next phase of your life.