Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Case Law Development: Dividing Proceeds of Wrongful Death Award upon Divorce

The Iowa Supreme Court addressed equitable division of a wrongful death award.  The case involved a couple who were divorcing after a 22-year marriage.  Fifteen years earlier, the couple's oldest son was killed in an auto accident.  His mother witnessed the accident.  Both parents filed wrongful death actions and settled their separate claims, with mother receiving a settlement of over $400,000 more than father.  Both parents received payments on the settlements, which were treated as marital income by the couple.  Upon divorce, the court divided the future payments made to either party to be divided equally.  Mother argues that  she should have been awarded a larger share of the payments because the difference between her and her husband's awards represented the compensation for the emotional distress she suffered from witnessing the accident.  However, the court was unable to determine the portion of the award that was attributable to her emotional distress and concluded that an equal division of the award was not inequitable.

In re Marriage of Arends, 2007 Iowa App. LEXIS 846 (July 25, 2007)
Opinion online (last visited August 1, 2007 bgf)

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