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How Getting into an Accident Can Lead to Divorce
Couples file for divorce for many reasons. For some couples, they may merely drift apart and decide to dissolve the marriage. Some individuals file for divorce because of an unfaithful partner, abuse, or abandonment. Florida is a “no-fault” state for divorce; divorcing couples do not have to give a reason for their divorce. They only have to allege that it is “irretrievably broken.”
The simple stress of everyday life may lead to an irretrievably broken marriage. For example, getting into a car accident in Orlando can lead to a couple’s separation. The stress of dealing with the consequences of a serious personal injury can cause issues to surface.
Personal injury claims may arise because of slips and falls, traffic accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, and defective products. Regardless of the type of accident, a personal injury can affect your marriage in ways that you cannot predict.
Three Ways an Accident Can Impact Your Marriage
Here are three ways that getting into an accident can lead to divorce:
1. Financial Problems
One of the most common reasons that spouses argue is because of money. Money issues are one of the leading causes of marital discord and can lead to the breakup of a marriage.
It is common for injury victims to sustain thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages after an accident. Depending on the severity of the injury, a person could be out of work for months. Financial losses and expenses caused by the accident could total hundreds of thousands of dollars when all is said and done.
Even if another party was responsible for their injury, a spouse might not recover money for their injuries and financial losses until a year or more after the accident. During that time, spouses may be unable to handle the stress of dealing with money problems caused by the accident.
If the spouse involved in the accident was responsible for causing the accident, there could be liability questions. An individual may be worried that remaining married to their spouse could jeopardize their assets if a victim sues their spouse for damages.
2. Health Problems
The injuries caused by an accident can range from lacerations and bruises to broken bones and brain damage. In some cases, a person may sustain a permanent impairment or disability because of the accident. Paralysis, amputations, and internal organ damage can result in partial or total disability.
Severe health conditions can place a strain on a marriage in two ways. First, the financial cost of long-term care can total millions of dollars over a person’s lifetime. Unfortunately, disability income does not replace a person’s income from work.
Second, caring for someone with a permanent disability or severe injury can be incredibly challenging. The truth is that some individuals are not suited to be caregivers.
A spouse may become resentful because they must care for their injured spouse. The injured spouse may also become resentful because the uninjured spouse goes on with their life.
Mental and physical health issues are common reasons for divorce, especially if one spouse becomes incapacitated after an injury accident. In fact, Florida law allows a divorcing spouse to assert the mental incapacity of their spouse as grounds for divorce. However, the requirements for such a divorce are more stringent than divorces due to irretrievable brokenness.
The stress caused by the accident and injury can cause the non-injured spouse to experience health issues. Stress can cause sleep problems, high blood pressure, eating disorders, and other health concerns. The non-injured spouse may decide that they cannot deal with the stress and ask for a divorce.
What Happens When a Personal Injury Causes a Divorce?
As with all other reasons for a divorce, the parties will need to deal with the issues related to their marriage. Property division, child custody, and support obligations are issues that must be decided. A personal injury caused by an accident could impact some of these issues.
For example, if a parent sustains a permanent impairment because of an accident, it could impact their ability to care for a child. Florida courts make custody decisions depending on the “best interests” of a child. Judges consider many factors to determine a child’s best interests, including parents’ physical and mental healthand their ability to meet their child’s needs. Therefore, the court might award primary physical custody to a non-injured spouse if it determines that the injured spouse’s personal injury limits their ability to care for their child.
Depending on the structure of the personal injury settlement, a portion of the settlement could be considered marital property. Florida is an equitable distribution state. Any property acquired by spouses during the marriage is marital property and subject to division. If you acquired your settlement during the marriage, a portion of it could be included in the property division arrangement following your divorce. Your spouse could get as much as 50% or more of the settlement.
Seeking Legal Advice for a Divorce Involving a Personal Injury Settlement
It is in your best interest to seek legal counsel from a family law attorney as soon as possible if you or your spouse intends to file for divorce. The personal injury settlement can have a significant impact on the outcome of your divorce case. Obtaining legal advice now can help you avoid mistakes that could lead to a less than favorable financial settlement for your divorce.