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Will a personal injury award affect alimony or child support?

An individual who has been hurt may pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the person or entity that caused the accident. It may be possible to win financial compensation for those injuries that may help to pay medical bills or make up for lost wages or future earnings. However, if an injured victim wins his or her case, does it impact his or her ability to receive alimony or child support payments?

Where Was the Award Won?

In some states, child support is based on an income shares model. This means that the income of both parents is used to determine how much the noncustodial parent pays to the primary caregiver. Therefore, if a parent lives in a state with such a model, he or she may have child support reduced either temporarily or permanently.

However, this assumes that a given state includes proceeds from a lawsuit as income, which is not always the case. In some cases, only some of the award is considered to be taxable income.

In states where the court will only consider the income of the noncustodial parent to determine support awards, a personal injury award may have no impact. It is also possible that a judge may grant a motion from the noncustodial parent to modify support payments depending on the terms of the settlement.

Alimony Is Meant to Help Adults Maintain a Similar Lifestyle

Alimony payments are paid to help an individual live the same or similar lifestyle for a period of time after the divorce. Payments may be determined based on how long the marriage lasted, the ability of an individual to make a living, or other factors deemed relevant.

If a prenuptial agreement is in place, it will determine the amount of alimony, or how long alimony is provided. It may also decide whether alimony payments cease if an individual receives compensation from any outside source. In the event that such payments are ordered by a judge, he or she may take the new income into consideration.

Settlements Could Address the Question of Future Needs

Those who are receiving compensation from another party may receive enough in the settlement to take care of their needs, even if child support or alimony are reduced or eliminated. For instance, money may be awarded to help pay a mortgage, or ensure that a child’s needs are taken care of. This could even include the cost of college or private school tuition.

Payments Should Still Be Made Until Orders are Changed

Those who owe child support or alimony payments should make them, even if there are grounds for a modification. State law may require a judge to put individuals in jail or enforce other penalties if there is an outstanding balance owed. In some cases, the person who won the lawsuit may agree that payments are not required and take no action to enforce the current order.

If you receive alimony or child support, it could be impacted by the presence of a personal injury award, as a Miami FL personal injury lawyer would explain. However, it may be possible to structure the award so that it doesn’t cut back on assistance that your child may need or that you may need if you can no longer work.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from the Law Offices of Needle & Ellenberg, P.C. for their insight into personal injury practice.

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