Written by Allen Brown.
Getting injured at work is a complicated thing. Not only are you dealing with the pain of your injuries, your medical bills, the inability to work and gain an income, and nervousness about returning to a potentially unsafe work environment—you’re also dealing with all your regular commitments and obligations.
One of these obligations, in particular—child support—can be an especially heavy burden in these situations. You want to make sure that your kids are getting everything that they need. It’s not fair that they should have to suffer or go without because your workplace was improperly managed.
The following will explore what options are available to you if you’ve been injured at work and are struggling to manage child support payments. Common questions will be answered, and all your options discussed. Where applicable, there will be guidelines or suggested steps to take.
You Will Still Legally Be Required To Pay Child Support
Let’s get the most obvious question out of the way first. Even if you were injured at work and are unable to return to work because of the harm you suffered, you will still be legally obligated to provide child support payments. If you are out of work for any reason—even if it’s someone else’s fault—you are required to pay court-sanctioned child support.
In Most Cases, You Will Still Be Required To Pay The Same Amount
More than this, the amount of child support you are required to pay will stay the same regardless of whether your workers’ compensation payments are less than your previous income. In most situations, workers’ compensation offers you only a percentage of your previous income, meaning, for many people, adjustments in spending, saving, and budgeting need to be addressed.
Workers’ Compensation Can Be Garnished For Child Support Purposes
Money can be held out of your weekly workers’ compensation payments to cover the cost of child support. In the event that you are behind on your child support payments, the money you owe can also be taken out. If you’re someone who likes to simplify things, you can set up automatic child support deductions from your workers’ compensation so that you don’t need to be manually making payments.
Altering Your Child Support Payments
There are occasional situations where a stipulation was included in the child support agreement that allows for a change in rate if you experience a change in income. If this is the case, there is a protocol you can follow to alter your child support payments to better reflect your new income.
You are also able to request a change via a legal process. You can petition the court for a temporary or permanent reduction in the payments required. For the majority of individuals injured at work with child support obligations, this is the preferable option.
To begin this process, reach out to an attorney that specializes in workers’ compensation. You want a lawyer with experience in this area because each category of law requires years of methodical study and practice to master. Many people are surprised to learn that attorneys hire other attorneys when they’re in need. An injury lawyer doesn’t handle their own divorce; a divorce lawyer doesn’t handle being injured.
Beyond this, you’re going to want to reach out to a lawyer practicing in the state that your injury occurred. This is because the law changes from state to state—and even in cases where the law is the same, the interpretation of the law and the previous precedents set is different. Experts at https://gregorysmithlaw.com/workers-compensation/ emphasize that a specialized attorney can help you with all aspects of the workers’ compensation process.
This could include:
- Litigating a case if that proves necessary
- Gathering medical records or other evidence
- Negotiating a settlement
- Communicating with your employer about your ability to work
- Draft pleadings, petitions, motions, and any other legal documents you need
- Perform legal research
- Take depositions whenever relevant
What Happens If I Just Stop Paying?
In the event that you refuse to pay for child support, your workers’ compensation can be garnished. If you refuse to make the payments, you might find yourself in trouble with the law and without access to income. If the payments are impossible in your current situation, reach out to an attorney as soon as possible.
The above information should be enough to get you started on the process of balancing workers’ compensation and child support payments. As with any and all legal information found online, speak to an attorney to understand how the rules apply to your particular situation.