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The Illinois Workers' Compensation Act provides that no payment, claim, award or decision shall be subject to any lien,attachment or garnishment. This portion of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act protected the injured worker from creditors who would attempt to gain a portion of his payments for past due debts.
Many cases involving compensation awards and divorce proceedings have been determined in the State of Illinois. Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act, it is provided that all property acquired by either spouse after that marriage and before a judgement of dissolution of marriage is presumed to be martial property. The Illinois courts have looked at whether proceeds of a workers' compensation case are martial property.
In one case, the husband and wife were married for over 31 years. The husband was injured at work on three occasions and received about $11,000 in money for these injuries in the years 1972,1973,and 1974. These monies were deposited in a joint savings account with his wife. After their 31 year marriage, they separated in 1977. The court held that the $11,000 was martial property to the extent it accrued and was actually paid over to the injured employee during the marriage. (83 ILL. APP. 3d 606,1980).
In another case, a husband and wife were married for 12 years and the husband had a pending claim under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act which was not determined at the time of the divorce. The court held that the workers' compensation award was martial property as long as the claim accrued during the 12 year marriage. (86 ILL. APP. 3d 540, 1980).
Accordingly, if one has a pending workers' compensation case and is involved in a divorce or separation proceeding, it would behoove the injured worker to obtain competent legal counsel while going through the divorce proceeding. Personal injury claims, disability pension, and even retirement benefits have been subject to distribution as martial property in the State of Illinois as well as workers' compensation proceeds.