If I owe back due child support, how much of my car accident lawsuit money can they take from me?

I live in the State of California, I have been working 2 jobs for several years now in order to pay child support and support myself. Currently I am only about 9,000 behind in child support and have recently modified my payment for child support due to income limitations. 4 years ago I was in a car accident that involved my mother and father as well as myself. We in return are suing a tire manufacturer and are coming close to a settlement date. The money I will be receiving will cover pain and suffering, loss wages, and emotional damages. My question is as follows I would like to know how much of this settlement can be garnished by child support, if only the amount owed or more money for future child support payments? I do not mind paying the child support for my 2 daughters, however I am entitled to this money for the limitations/injuries this accident has caused me. My lawyer advised me that I can appoint a trustee to the money I will be receiving and that my trustee can give me the money as I need it. What can I do? What are your thoughts? What advice can you give me?

Asked on June 10, 2016 under Family Law, California

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

When a parent owes back child support, then any accounts or assets in their name or their estate can be used to satisfy the back child support obligations.  They cannot seize amounts that are not yet due because those child support obligations have not yet accrued.  I know it is horrible to think, but if one of your children were to predecease you, then that obligation would be terminated.  This is why they cannot seize until the payment has actually become due and has not been paid.
So... only the back child support is subject to seizure.  As long as the account or asset is yours, it can be used to satisfy the child support obligation.  With that in mind, it does not matter if the funds are in an account or with a trustee.  However, how you receive the funds could affect future calculations of child support.  If you receive a regular annuity, for example, then this payment could be added to your monthly earnings to recalculate child support. Before you finalize this settlement, make sure you meet with a family law attorney and have them re-run your child support calculations considering before and after any distributions.  This will assist you in deciding how to best structure any settlement.


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