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Will My Personal Injury Settlement Affect My Child Support Payments?

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that plaintiffs win slightly more than half of civil lawsuits in the United States. If you’ve recently received a personal injury settlement, you may wonder how it might affect your child support payments. Courts base child support on the needs of the children and the resources of the parents. When a parent has new resources, the court might adjust child support payments to reflect the new income. A settlement may or may not change child support payments.

The Reason for the Settlement Matters

In some cases, a personal injury settlement pays for medical bills. In most cases, this type of payment doesn’t give an injured parent new money to pay child support. That money is for documented medical bills. The money can’t go to support the children because the parent has medical expenses.

On the other hand, a settlement payment might cover lost wages. In that case, a settlement is very much of interest to a court. The court might agree that the person now has more resources that they can use to support themselves. The next logical step is that if a person can use the money to support themselves, they should also use it to support their children.

One-time Payments vs. Regular Payments

This issue is tricky because a settlement is often a one-time payment. Many states don’t include one-time payments in child support calculations. These can include gifts or gambling winnings. The logic is that if a parent can’t reasonably expect to win or gain the same amount at predictable intervals, it’s not reasonable to expect them to pay additional amounts at predictable intervals. This may be different in a scenario where a settlement is meant to cover lost wages the parent would have been able to earn if they had been working.

The Court Must Evaluate the Needs of the Child

A child custody lawyer Bloomington IL trusts can help you examine the specifics of your state. Generally, a court may not simply order one parent to pay a percentage of a settlement to the other parent without looking at the needs of the children or applying the child support formula. Many states also have separate formulas that address extremely high incomes. This might apply at least temporarily when one parent receives a settlement.

Ultimately, the court’s goal is to help the child have the resources available that they might have had with married parents. This can include looking at all of the circumstances of a case. The court tries to fashion an order that reflects the best interests of the child.

How a Child Support Order Changes With New Income

Child support payments differ from state to state. Each state uses a slightly different formula to determine the incomes of the parties and the needs of the children. In most cases, a child support payment declines as a percentage of income the more a parent makes.

Support also usually takes into account the number of overnights that each parent spends with the child. There are also some situations where a court doesn’t have to follow a child support formula. While there’s no knowing for sure what a court might do in a specific case. If you’ve received a settlement and you pay or receive child support, it’s important to talk to a child custody lawyer. A lawyer can help you evaluate your case and present the issues to the judge in a way that’s favorable for you.

Thanks to my friends Pioletti & Pioletti for their added insight into child custody cases.

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