How Much of a Personal Injury Award Goes Towards Child Support?

How Much of a Personal Injury Award Goes Towards Child Support?Each parent’s net income helps determine the total child support obligation owed to pay for the expenses of raising their shared children. Illinois’ Supreme Court has defined child support income as a gain to a parent’s wealth that allows him or her to better support the children. Income commonly comes from recurring sources such as job wages and gifts but also includes one-time, lump-sum payments, such as a personal injury award. A sudden gain of thousands of dollars changes the amount of money a parent has available to pay child support, at least temporarily. However, Illinois courts do not count the entire personal injury award as part of a parent’s child support income. A recent case helped define how much of the award can go towards child support.

Break Down

The total award or settlement in a personal injury case is meant to pay for specific damages related to the injury, including:

  • Medical expenses;
  • Loss of income;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Loss of property;
  • Loss of enjoyment; and
  • Loss of consortium.

In a previous case involving child support and a personal injury award, an Illinois court determined that only the damages for the loss of income would count towards the income of a parent who is responsible for child support payments.

Recent Case

In the case of In re Marriage of Plowman, a divorced father became the primary parent of his child in February 2013 but waited until March 2015 to file for child support from the mother because she was a full-time student. The father discovered that the mother had received a $158,972.77 personal injury settlement after a car accident:

  • The mother claimed that the entire amount was for pain and suffering and is not part of her child support income, based on case precedent; but
  • The father argued that the entire settlement should be considered income because it was a substantial gain in the mother’s wealth and was spent as income.

A circuit court determined that $2,430 from the settlement was damages for a loss of the mother’s income and awarded 20 percent of that amount to the father. An appellate court reversed that decision and remanded the case, stating that the only parts of the settlement that should be excluded from child support income are legal fees and medical expenses.

Paying a Fair Share

Pain and suffering damages are a large portion of a personal injury settlement and represent a substantial financial gain for the recipient. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group will help make sure that an appropriate amount of your spouse’s increased income goes towards your shared child expenses. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.


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Goostree Law Group

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