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RD- an actual child support client
"My case was handled quickly and with ease."
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Collecting Child Support & Alimony Payments from Personal Injury Proceeds


Family in need of attorney

When seeking enforcement of a support order, such as through contempt proceedings, the court will assess the cause of an obligor’s failure to pay, including the obligor’s actual ability to pay, as well as any willful and voluntary actions. Alternative enforcement methods, such as placing a lien on personal injury settlement proceeds involve an evaluation based exclusively on the needs of a support recipient as compared with the needs of the obligor. The following is provided by the Family Law Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. to offer clarification on the rights to personal injury settlement proceeds, from the perspectives of both a settlement recipient, as well as an obligee seeking to place a lien on such proceeds.

Determining which methods are available to an obligee is dependent on the factual circumstances involved. Enforcement methods often require an evaluation of why the obligor has failed to make support payments. There are a variety of reasons why an obligor may fail to make payments for child support or alimony. In some cases, the obligor may be suffering from a medical illness, or may have lost a job, or other source of income. In other cases, the obligor is willfully unemployed, underemployed, or has otherwise voluntarily contributed to their inability to pay support. In either circumstance, when an obligor fails to make support payment, an obligee can seek enforcement of such obligations by placing a lien on proceeds an obligor may receive under a settlement or award associated with an obligor’s personal injury claim.

It is important to know that, an obligee can seek the imposition of a lien upon settlement proceeds before an award has been disbursed or settlement amount obtained. While the amount of such lien is a determination typically reserved for the trial court, a lien may generally be imposed nevertheless, depending on the factual circumstances involved. The reason that courts allow the imposition of a lien on settlement proceeds prior to disbursement or determination of settlement award amount is simple—the lien protects an obligee from the risk that an obligor will divert settlement proceeds in an attempt to avoid the payment of spousal or child support obligations. Therefore, it is crucial that an obligor take the appropriate measures to protect their legal rights, by seeking the attachment of a lien as soon as possible, following the discovery of an obligor’s anticipated receipt of settlement proceeds.

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It is also important to know that the extent of entitlement to proceeds under a personal injury settlement, is dependent on the needs of both the settlement recipient, as well as the needs of the beneficiary of a support obligation. As a result, in cases where the obligor owes a significant amount of past due child or spousal support, and the ultimate settlement proceeds recovered are insufficient to meet the obligor’s own financial and medical needs, the amount recovered under a lien may be reduced in accordance with the reasonable needs of such obligor.

Consequently, it is necessary to understand the legal rights of both an obligee and obligor, given the specific factual circumstances at hand, in order to properly assess the appropriateness, availability, and extent of recovery of past due support via attachment of a lien upon settlement proceeds. Whether you are an obligee or an obligor, our experienced and dedicated child and spousal support enforcement and modification attorneys, will discuss your legal rights and remedies during a comprehensive consultation. Keep in mind, however, that support matters, particularly those involving settlement proceeds, should be addressed as soon as the issue arises. Doing so will help to ensure that necessary measures are taken in a timely manner to safeguard the legal interests of you and your family.