Family Code Section 780 provides as follows:
Except as provided in Section 781 and subject to the rules of allocation set forth in Section 2603, money and other property received or to be received by a married person in satisfaction of a judgment for damages for personal injuries, or pursuant to an agreement for the settlement or compromise of a claim for such damages, is community property if the cause of action for the damages arose during the marriage.
If a spouse’s claim for personal injury damages arose during the marriage, any subsequent settlement or judgment obtained by that spouse is considered community property. Therefore, any monetary judgment or settlement received by that spouse can be divided in a divorce proceeding. If the divorce has finalized without any mention of the personal injury case/award, then the other spouse may pursue his or her community share of the personal injury judgment through a post-judgment request.
For example, John and Jane got married in 1999 and filed for divorce in 2005. The divorce finalized in 2006. In 2004, John got a in a car accident and he subsequently settled the case for $100,000.00. John received his settlement payout in 2007. Because John’s claim for damages arose in 2004 when he was injured and while he was still married to Jane, Jane has a community interest in John’s 2007 settlement payout. if the parties’ divorce decree did not mention the car accident or John’s anticipated settlement, Jane may still pursue her share of the settlement by going back to court.
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