Most personal injury cases settled out of court without parties appearing in front of a judge. Once you have come to an agreement, you can count on getting every penny of the settlement. Right????? This is not necessarily the case in all situations. One thing that can seriously affect collection of the settlement is child support.

How is Child Support Determined?

Understand the calculation of child support payments before considering what a personal injury settlement might mean. In the state of Tennessee, as well as other jurisdictions, child support payments are generally based on the parents’ combined adjusted gross income (AGI). Child support calculations start with a percentage of income and considers the custodial agreement. Income includes salary/wages collected, social security payments, rental income, etc.

There is a formula to determine how much is required each month to support a child and then how much each parent must contribute, taking the AGI into account, as well as any custody arrangement.

How Debt Collection Laws and Back Child Support Debt Can Affect Your Settlement

Child support agreements have no immediate affect on a personal injury settlement, unless you are in arrears (owe back payments). However, there’s no guarantee the custodial parent of your child won’t try and renegotiate the agreement, if your settlement is substantial, by filing for a modification of child support. Because a drastic change in salary is usually the catalyst necessary for a modification, your settlement may be safe.

This is not the case if you are in arrears. If you owe back child support, keep reading to learn what might happen.

Tennessee law considers a personal injury settlement property. The courts can seize personal property if there is a past-due child support obligation. Like most states, Tennessee takes child support arrangements and the responsibility of parents to care for their children seriously. Because of this view, being in arrears can result in the court putting a lien against this new property to settle your debt. The law requires your attorney to garnish any settlement by an amount equal to your debt.

In any of the above circumstances, you can’t go wrong by scheduling a free consultation with an attorney at McKeehan Law Group. Our firm offers expert representation in both child custody and personal injury law.