Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules on How to Handle Personal Injury Settlement Proceeds in Divorce Action

In the divorce case of Focht v. Focht, 51 MAP 2010 (Pa. Nov. 23, 2011)(Opinion by McCaffery), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reviewed the proper handling, in a divorce matter, of personal injury settlement proceeds secured by one spouse.

The Supreme Court overruled the Superior Court's finding that, since the parties had separated prior to the settlement of the case, the settlement proceeds should not be considered marital property in the divorce action.

The Supreme Court disagreed and noted that where, as here, a cause of action accrued after the date of marriage and before the date of final separation, then any subsequent settlement proceeds are to be considered marital property subject to equitable distribution, regardless of when the settlement occurred.

Justice McCaffery's Majority Opinion can be viewed here.

Justice Saylor's Concurring Opinion can be viewed here.

I send thanks to Attorney Walt McClatchy of the Philadelphia law firm of McClatchy and Associates for bringing this case to my attention.  I also note as a source the "Case Digests" of the December 6, 2011 edition of The Pennsylvania Law Weekly.

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