Florida’s tort laws give injured victims a legal cause of action against the party who caused their injury. An injured party can seek compensation for their damages by filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. If the party proves fault and liability, they can receive a personal injury award or settlement.
Every state has laws that require parents to provide for the financial needs of their children. Being separated or divorced does not change that obligation. Child support obligations are also separate from child custody and visitation matters.
When a parent does not pay their child support obligations, the state can take several actions to collect the child support payments. In Florida, insurance settlements and personal injury awards can be seized to pay unpaid child support payments.
How Does Your Personal Injury Award Impact Your Child Support Obligation?
A personal injury award or settlement can impact your child support obligation in several ways. Things to consider if you receive a personal injury award include the following:
Payment of Past Due Child Support Payments
If the court orders you to make child support payments, you must pay that amount until the court modifies or stop the payments. Typically, the non-custodial parent pays the custodial parent child support. The custodial parent has primary physical custody of the child.
Florida uses child support guidelines to calculate how much a parent owes for child support. The guidelines are designed to calculate a fair amount that parents should contribute to the financial needs of their children using several factors.
The state can seize your personal injury award if you are behind on your child support payments or have a child support lien against you. Therefore, it is best to talk with a Florida child support lawyer before receiving a personal injury settlement if you are behind on your child support payments.
Personal Injury Awards Can Be Considered Income
Child support payments are calculated by using the Florida child support guidelines. Several factors are considered when calculating the amount of child support, including daycare, extracurricular healthcare, and education costs. Each parent’s income and earning ability are also factors used to calculate child support payments.
Judges can deviate five percent from the child support guidelines based on specific facts. For example, a judge could increase child support if the child has expenses related to special needs. Judges can consider any relevant factors that affect the equitable payment of child support.
Sometimes, a personal injury award may be considered income for child support obligations. For example, a judge could count the portion of the personal injury award classified as reimbursement for loss of income after the injury as income for child support.
Some personal injury awards include compensation for future damages. Future damages can include compensation for future lost wages and decreases in earning capacity. To the extent that the personal injury settlement compensates you for lost wages, it could be considered income for child support.
What Happens if I Don’t Pay Child Support in Florida?
Child support arrearage is unpaid child support payments owed by a parent to the other parent. There is no statute of limitations for collecting child support payments. Therefore, you could lose some of a personal injury award years after you incurred the child support payments.
The state can take several actions to collect child support arrears. Collection efforts include:
- Garnishing your wages
- Placing liens on real property
- Seizing tax refunds
- Taking money from your bank account
- Seizing money paid for a personal injury claim
- Entering a judgment that accrues interest and must be paid through the State Disbursement Unit
- Seizing assets from your probate estate after your death
In addition to collecting unpaid child support payments, the state may take other steps. For example, the state could suspend your driver’s license, passport, and license plate. In addition, you could have your professional and business license revoked or suspended for unpaid child support payments.
What Should I Do if I Have a Personal Injury Claim and Owe Child Support in Florida?
A personal injury lawyer helps you with your injury claim. A lawyer understands the damages you could receive for a claim and the value of those damages. Visit the Allen Law Firm, P.A.’s website to get more information about how a personal injury attorney in Florida handles all matters related to your accident or personal injury and works to maximize the amount of money you receive from a personal injury settlement.
A divorce lawyer understands Florida child support laws. A divorce attorney can help you deal with unpaid child support payments by working with your personal injury lawyer to structure a settlement agreement that is in your best interest.