Can A Personal Injury Settlement Be Used for Child Support? - Los Angeles Post-ExaminerLos Angeles Post-Examiner

Can A Personal Injury Settlement Be Used for Child Support?

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Once a plaintiff receives a personal injury settlement, it is usually theirs to do with it as they wish. Unless there are special conditions attached to the settlement, victims can use it for their daily lives as they see fit. This includes child support payments.

Some Parts of a Settlement Are Available for Use

Much of a personal injury settlement is already earmarked for a set purpose. Medical bills are a large part of the personal injury claim, and they are paying expenses that an accident victim will definitely incur. He or she will not have this portion of the money available for child support. However, there are other parts of a settlement besides medical bills. This includes:

  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

Lost wages are money that a plaintiff would have earned anyway had he or she not been injured. This could be money that the victim would have used to pay child support. While a settlement does not factor in child support obligations, it does address the money that someone would have earned to meet his or her expenses. With that in mind, there are no restrictions on how someone could use the money. There may be some terms and conditions that are a part of the settlement agreement that could dictate what happens with the money, but these are rare.

Settlement Funds Can Pay Prior Obligations

Once the attorney and the doctors are paid, the claimant has an unrestricted right to whatever he or she wants with the money. Ideally, settlement recipients should use the money for daily needs. They should also save for the future. Accident victims may be unable to work for some time, and they will need that money years into the future. This is why it is essential for claimants to carefully manage the sum. Child support is a legitimate need, and it is a debt that one owes each month. The law treats it like any other debt that the person owes. Settlement money can run out at a certain point, so it is crucial to get advice today about how to handle the funds.

The Accident Victim Can Be Made to Pay Child Support

Not only can a personal injury settlement be used for child support, oftentimes the parent has no choice. For example, if a parent is behind on his or her child support payments, the other parent can file to garnish the personal injury settlement. Then, some of the settlement can be taken and applied to the back child support balance. It is treated like any other influx of money that the parent receives in his or her account. Those who are behind on child support should bring that to the attorney’s attention before negotiating and signing a settlement agreement.

Any lien placed on a settlement will not take priority over medical bills. These come first. However, the state may place a lien on the settlement funds due to back child support. In the long run, extinguishing a past debt will help the accident victim. Nonetheless, back child support can reduce what the victims take home.

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