Answering the question of whether an injury settlement will affect child support payments hinges on two separate legal issues. The first issue involves whether the personal injury settlement could be construed as income. If the settlement is viewed as income, the question then becomes whether the parent has child support payments that are past due.
In short, if a personal injury settlement is legally viewed as income and child support payments are past due, then the court may take part of the settlement income to make child support payments. Here are key details that should help you determine whether an injury settlement may impact your child support payments.
As a general rule across most states, personal injury settlements can be viewed as income when calculating a parent’s child support obligations. Of course, state laws vary, so it is wise to discuss how state law applies to your situation with a child support lawyer Tampa FL trusts.
That said, if the personal injury settlement is paid out monthly, it is very likely that your state will view the injury settlement as income for child support purposes. Similarly, a large settlement amount that accrues interest may result in the interest being viewed as income for child support purposes. A lump sum payment, however, can quickly complicate the analysis.
State laws can greatly differ on whether a lump sum payment from an injury settlement can count as income. When state statutes are silent on the issue — as many state laws are — the lump sum issue is then decided by state courts. Even then, courts within a state may have different rulings on the lump sum issue.
Some states have held that single payments like lump sum injury settlements are not income because they are a one-time payment, not a recurring payment. Other states, such as California, have had courts rule that any part of an accident settlement that compensates for lost wages can be viewed as income and taken as child support.
In any state, courts can go after a parent’s income to pay for child support if the parent has past due child support payments to make. If an injury settlement is viewed as income in your state and your child support payments are past due, the court may use the settlement proceeds to make those payments.
If you have past due child support payments and believe your injury settlement may be viewed as income, contact a family law attorney to discuss how your state’s laws apply to the facts of your case.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Mckinney Law Group for their insight into injury settlements and their effects on child support payments.