Can Child Support Take My Personal Injury Settlement?
Personal Injury - May 21, 2021
In a country where many marriages end in divorce, it is not uncommon for many people to owe child support. There is nothing wrong with this, and child support payments are a crucial part and ensuring the welfare of a child until they reach the age of 18.
However, there are times when people fall behind on their child support payments, and they could end up owing significant amounts of back pay and interest. Here, we want to discuss whether or not back child support can be taken from any personal injury settlement that a person may be awarded. This is important information for individuals to know if they expect that they are going to receive compensation after sustaining an injury caused by the careless or negligent actions of somebody else.
What Will Illinois do if You Owe Child Support?
The state of Illinois takes child support delinquency very seriously. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Division of Child Support Enforcement has the authority to pursue parents who owe $5,000 in more in past-due child support.
In the state of Illinois, appellate court decisions have found that net proceeds from a non-custodial parent’s personal injury settlement do count as income for the purposes of child support payments. While it may seem unfair that the money that is supposed to go towards an injury victim’s medical bills and pain and suffering has to go towards child support, that is simply the reality.
In Illinois, the law broadly defines “income” for the purposes of child support. When we turn to Section 505(a)(3) of the Dissolution Act (750 ILCS 5/505(a)(3), we can see that “net income” is defined as the “total of all income from all sources.”
Taken further, we can see that the Illinois Supreme Court has included “gains and benefits that enhance a non-custodial parent’s wealth and facilitate that parent’s ability to support a child or children,” as income (Mayfield, 2013 IL 114655, (citing Rogers, 213 Ill. 2d at 136-37)).
Personal Injury Awards Increase a Person’s Ability to Support Their Child
If you expect to receive a settlement as a result of a personal injury case, you need to be aware that this money will count as income and could be used for child support purposes. If you owe child support, you need to be ready for the state of Illinois to come after not only a portion of your personal injury settlement but the whole thing until the back pay amount is satisfied. Personal injury award amounts do increase the ability of a parent to support their child. If that parent has been unable to support their child, for whatever reason, this gives them a chance to catch up on the child support payments.
But what about the injury and the pain and suffering?
We do wish we had better news when it comes to paying your back child support. The best advice that we can give is for you to work with a skilled personal injury lawyer as you pursue compensation from the person that caused your injury. A personal injury attorney can work with trusted medical and economic experts to help maximize the total amount of compensation you receive. The ultimate goal would be to get enough money to pay off your child support while also leaving money to handle your pain and suffering as well as your lost wages caused by your injury.