Family Law

Effect of Workers' Compensation on Child Support

If you have a child and are going through a divorce, you might be wondering how much child support you or the other parent will have to pay. The court takes into account many factors in determining child support. It'll examine the needs of the child and the parents' ability to pay.

In determining your ability to pay child support, the court will consider your level of income. Most sources of income are obvious, such as your salary. However, some sources of income aren't as obvious. If you're receiving workers' compensation benefits because of an injury, you may wonder whether that'll be considered income for child support purposes. In most cases, the court will consider your workers' compensation benefits as income. Talk to an attorney if you or the other parent is receiving workers' compensation and either of you have child support obligations.

Income for Child Support Purposes

The court will consider many different sources of money as income for child support purposes. Some examples include:

  • Salaries
  • Income from overtime
  • Income from second jobs
  • Social Security retirement or disability benefits
  • Rents

If you receive money to replace lost income because of old-age or a disability, the court will usually consider the money in its child support determinations. Also, any money earned from an inheritance, even one received after the divorce, will normally be considered income for child support.

One exception is money given to you based on need. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are available to adults and children who're disabled and who've limited income. SSI benefits aren't considered income for child support purposes in most states.

Workers' Compensation Benefits

If you've been injured on the job, you may be receiving workers' compensation. Workers' compensation is money received by an employee for an injury that arose out of and in the course of employment. The money is given as a replacement for income lost because of the injury. Every state has different laws as to how to receive workers' compensation.

The court will consider your workers' compensation benefits as income for child support purposes. Since the money is considered a substitute for lost income, you must support your child with it just the same as if you earned it on the job. Likewise, if the other parent is injured and receives workers' compensation, the child support you receive won't be reduced on the basis of lost income.

Garnishment of Workers' Compensation

Sometimes a parent won't pay his child support obligations. If the other parent is failing to pay child support, you may be interested in garnishing his income. Garnishment is when a creditor seeks to have money directly sent to her to pay a debt instead of having the money sent to the debtor. You can have the other parent's income sent directly to you for child support so that you don't have to depend on him to pay the support.

Workers' compensation benefits can be garnished to pay for child support. You can ask the court to order the state agency or organization that's paying the workers' compensation benefits to withhold a certain amount to satisfy the child support obligations. This money will be sent directly to you to help you support and take care of your child.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Can I have my child support obligations reduced if I am injured at work and receive workers' compensation payments instead of my normal income?
  • What are my options if my ex-spouse is receiving workers' compensation and isn't paying his child support obligations?
  • Can my ex-spouse modify his child support payments if his workers' compensation benefits are less than the income he normally earns when he's healthy?
  • What happens when a parent receives workers' compensation for a short time, say only a couple of months; will that be cause for modifying a child support order?

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