Rizzo v. Rizzo: If an accident renders a husband unable to work, equity dictates he shall get most of the annuity—considered marital property.
By Laura Morgan, Family Lawyer Magazine
Annuity at issue in divorce proceeding, which was purchased pursuant to terms of settlement agreement in civil action commenced jointly by parties, constituted marital property subject to equitable distribution; following an on-the-job accident that rendered husband unable to work, parties together commenced an action to recover damages for husband’s personal injuries and for loss of consortium to wife, both parties were named plaintiffs in action, and settlement agreement that was reached by parties expressly provided that it was for full settlement, release, and discharge of all claims in complaint, including loss of consortium, settlement provided for a lump-sum payment in a certain amount and periodic monthly payments of $3,235 guaranteed for 30 years, then continuing for the life of either or both of the parties, settlement agreement was silent as to allocation of funds awarded for husband’s personal injury cause of action and wife’s cause of action for loss of consortium, and annuity named husband and wife as joint payees with rights of survivorship.
HOWEVER, husband was entitled to 90% of each monthly annuity payment while wife was entitled to 10% of each monthly annuity payment; although annuity was subject to equitable distribution, equity dictated that husband should receive most of annuity, as he was permanently disabled and unable to earn income at present or in the future, whereas wife was employed and had future income earning capacity.
Laura W. Morgan is the owner and operator at Family Law Consulting in Charlottesville, Virginia.Laura is available for consultation, brief writing and research on family law issues throughout the country. She can be reached through her website. www.famlawconsult.com