The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently dealt with the question of whether
post-separation disability payments are marital. In Yuhas v. Yuhas, the
husband was a vascular surgeon who developed carpal tunnel syndrome in
2007 and so could not practice surgery. Fortunately, Husband had a disability
income policy that paid for such eventualities. The injury occurred prior
to the parties' separation in 2007 and everybody agreed that the pre-separation
disability payments were marital. But what about the payments made after 2007?
Pennsylvania divides up property in a divorce by "equitable distribution",
found at 23 PaCSA 3501. The general rule is that property acquired during
the marriage is marital and property acquired after separation (or before
the marriage) is not marital. Here, the injury occurred before separation.
Ordinarily, if a spouse is injured (in say a car accident) before separation,
the personal injury payout is marital even if the case is settled after
separation and the money arrives after separation.
The twist here is that the continuing disability payments were contingent
upon the continuing post-separation disability of Husband, not just the
injury that occurred during the marriage. Moreover, the payments were
made under an insurance contact, not from a legal action such as a personal
So, the Superior Court analyzed Section 3501(a)(8) which provides that
post-separation payments are not marital for "any payment received
as a result of an award or settlement for any cause of action or claim
which accrued prior to the marriage or after the date of final separation
regardless of when the payment is received". So, when did Husband's
right to seek his disability payments "accrue"? Before separation
when he was injured or after separation for each month he stays injured?
The Court decided that the payments were not marital because they were
contingent upon proof of Husband's continued inability to work - not
just inability during the marriage.
Such payments would still probably be income for spousal support or alimony,
but that was not at issue in this case. The citation is Yuhas v. Yuhas,
2013 WL 5783117 (Pa. Super. 2013)