Child support is a legal obligation that requires a parent to provide financial support for a child or children after a divorce or legal separation. There are serious legal consequences for parents who fall behind in providing child support. In addition to wage garnishment and jail time, read on to find out how child support obligations can affect a personal injury case.
What Is Child Support?
Child support is financial support provided to a child by one or both parents. The courts determine the amount a parent pays in child support based on what they consider to be in the best interest of the child or children. These payments help the custodial parent or guardian provide for food, housing, education, clothing, medical expenses, and the other costs of raising a child.
In Louisiana, the courts determine the amount of child support a parent must pay using a formula based on the income of both parents. (You can read the Schedule for Support here.) However, other factors, such as the number of children involved, the amount of parenting time each parent has, as well as a child’s healthcare and childcare expenses, can impact the amount a parent is ordered to pay.
How Child Support Obligations Affect a Personal Injury Case Settlement
If you’ve been injured in an accident that was caused by the negligent acts of another, Louisiana state law gives you the right to seek compensation for the damages caused by your injuries. These damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and more. You obtain this compensation by filing a personal injury claim against those responsible for the accident that resulted in your injuries.
Depending on the circumstances in your case, you could potentially recover millions of dollars as a settlement for your claim. However, you could lose a percentage of that settlement if you are behind in your child support payments in Louisiana.
Under What Circumstances is Child Support Taken From a Settlement Check?
The state courts take failure to pay child support very seriously. “Arrears” are the money a parent owes for missed child support payments. There are many enforcement actions available to the court when it comes to collecting outstanding child support arrears. This includes wage garnishment, liens, and even jail time.
A lien gives the court the right to keep another person’s property until that person repays a debt. In the context of a child support case, the lien will remain in place until the parent in arrears repays the child support they owe. Almost any kind of income — salary, wages, bonuses, commissions, and yes, even personal injury settlements, can be withheld to collect past-due child support.
Will My Personal Injury Settlement Affect Future Child Support Payments?
While money from a settlement can be taken for outstanding child support, it can’t be taken if you are current on your payments. Nor will the fact that you received a cash settlement automatically increase the amount of child support you may owe.
If your injuries are so severe that you are unable to return to work or are forced to take a job that pays less than your former occupation, you may be able to ask the court to reduce the amount of child support you pay each month.
How Can an Attorney Help?
Collecting the compensation you deserve for your accident-related injuries won’t be easy. For the insurance company to settle, you’re going to have to be able to prove that their policyholder was responsible for the accident that caused your injuries as well as the fact that you suffered damages as a result of these injuries. A personal injury attorney can help.
They’ll have the expertise and resources to fully investigate your claim and gather the evidence you’ll need to establish your case. This evidence will be used to negotiate a settlement that fairly compensates you for your accident-related damages. In most cases, the insurance company will reach an agreement with your attorney rather than risk taking your case to court.
While an injury lawyer can’t get you out of having to make child support payments while you’re laid up, they may be able to intervene on your behalf to explain your situation to the court and arrange for a modified payment plan that avoids contempt of court charges and jail time.
Speak to a New Orleans Personal Injury Attorney About Your Accident
The law firm of Lambert Zainey Smith & Soso has been protecting the rights of individuals injured in a wide range of accidents since the 1970s. We’re considered to be one of Louisiana’s leading personal injury law firms. Our team of New Orleans personal injury attorneys has recovered over $1 billion in settlements for our clients.
If you’ve been injured due to an accident and are unable to work or pay child support, contact Lambert Zainey without delay. The sooner you take action to protect your rights after an accident, the more likely you are to collect the full compensation you are owed for your accident-related damages. You can reach us online or call us at (800) 521-1750 to schedule a free, initial consultation with an experienced New Orleans personal injury attorney.