Have you recently received a settlement for a personal injury claim? If so, that award money could possibly affect your child custody agreement. This might be in addition to affecting your child support payments. Below is some general information about how it may affect you but ultimately, only your personal injury lawyer or your family law attorney will know for certain after a review of your circumstances.
What is a personal injury award?
A personal injury award, also known as a settlement, is the compensation paid to a claimant for the damages they suffered as a result of the injury. The award is paid to the claimant by the at-fault party’s insurance company, or it may be paid by the claimant’s insurance company if they were at fault or if the other party did not have insurance coverage. Hiring a personal injury lawyer can help ensure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation possible for your damages.
Can a child custody agreement be changed?
Under certain circumstances, a family law court judge will approve modifications to an existing child custody agreement. There must be at least one compelling reason for that change. In the instance of a parent receiving a personal injury settlement, that settlement is more likely to change the child support arrangement more so than the custody agreement. However, both may be affected. Successfully getting approval from a family law court judge to change one or more aspects of a child custody agreement generally requires hiring a lawyer to petition the court. Input from a personal injury lawyer may also be instructive.
How might a child custody agreement be modified after one parent receives a personal injury settlement?
If a parent was injured and received a settlement for their damages, the following scenarios could develop:
- The settlement may make it possible for the individual to upgrade their home and more easily accommodate having their child visit overnight. If this was not possible before, (for example, they were living in a single bedroom apartment) they may wish to petition the court to increase their child custody visits.
- If the settlement includes compensation for physical therapy, this may necessitate changing the child custody agreement in order for the parent to attend their appointments. They may need to change days or the time of day that they visit with the child.
- If the injuries suffered by the parent impact their ability to provide care for the child, they may need to hire child care or else limit their visitations until they sufficiently recover. For instance, if the child is young and must have constant attention and the parent’s mobility is adversely affected, they may not be able to keep up with the child.
In addition to hiring a personal injury lawyer, you may also benefit from the guidance provided by a child custody lawyer who can help you petition for changes to your agreement should that be necessary.