– from Denise Z. in South Milwaukee, WI

Question Details:

My husband and I have been married for about five years. Three years into our marriage, I was in a serious car accident which left me unable to work. The injuries will last through several more surgeries. My husband and I have agreed on equal property division, but we cannot agree on the structured personal injury settlement. He feels that because he had the extra burden of support during the last two years, that I owe him a portion of the settlement payments. Is my structured settlement divisible?

Family Law Attorney Response:

The courts have full discretion in these matters, so I can't give you a guarantee. However, I can say that it is unlikely that the courts will decide to split this form of settlement under these circumstances. Since you're unable to work, the court may consider your need greater than his when it comes to financial support or obligation.

To exemplify, the case of Krebs v. Krebs 148 Wis. 2d 51, 435 N.W.2d 240 (1989) brought this issue to the forefront. In that case, the court had decided to split the structured personal injury settlement. The court granted the wife a greater share at 70%, and the husband 30%. However, the wife appealed. The court of appeals reversed. The supreme court affirmed.

My advice is to contact a family law attorney to discuss your situation further.

Trisha Festerling, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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