Court Requires Child Support From Personal Injury Settlement

Even if it's a one-time payment, it's still income.
We ordinarily think of child support as periodic payments for the support of a child made by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent. By "periodic," we mean that child support is paid at regular intervals in a specific amount. The object is to provide a reliable income stream to the custodial parent for the benefit of the child.

What happens, then, when the noncustodial parent receives a one-time lump sum of money? Should a unique receipt of money be considered income for child support purposes?

In a recent Indiana case, the court of appeals held that one-time payments should be included in child-support calculations. The father paid $130 per week until he was hurt while employed with a railroad. The court reduced his obligation on a temporary basis to $73 per week. Then, the father settled his lawsuit against the railroad for $1 million which resulted in a one-time payment to the father of $707,786.82.

The father "argued to the trial court that the settlement money should not be imputed to him as regular income, as it was a one-time disbursement. Specifically, [the father] highlighted that the settlement money was to be used to pay his necessary living expenses for the remainder of his life because his injuries . . . left him permanently disabled and unable to work."

But the court disagreed: The court raised the father's child support to $193 per week plus uninsured medical expenses.

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