The characterization of funds received for personal injuries can be a complex issue in a Texas divorce. Texas family law presumes that property possessed by a spouse during or on dissolution of the marriage is community property. When a spouse claims certain property is separate, that spouse must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the property is separate. Tex. Fam. Code § 3.003. Pursuant to Tex. Fam. Code 3.001, recovery for personal injuries sustained during the marriage is separate property. There is an exception, however, for recovery for lost earning capacity during the marriage. Because a spouse claiming separate property has the burden of proof, that spouse must show by clear and convincing evidence what part of a personal injury settlement is separate property. Recently, a husband appealed the trial court’s ruling which characterized his personal injury recovery as community property.
Personal Injury Settlement
According to the appeals court, the husband and wife married in 1994 and lived separately at various times during the marriage. In December 2014, husband was injured as the result of an automobile accident in the scope of his employment. The parties were separated when the accident occurred, but subsequently reconciled.
The husband settled for the other driver’s policy limits of $30,000. He also received net proceeds of $710,724.25 from a settlement with his employer’s under-insured motorist coverage. Thereafter, his attorneys transferred those funds into the parties’ joint checking account on October 8, 2019. The parties then separated that month and the wife filed a divorce petition on November 1.