Workers’ Compensation and Child Support in Arkansas
If you were injured at work, you may be considering workers’ compensation payments to help support you while you recover from your injuries. Since workers’ comp. is often used for an extended period, the payments you receive from workers’ comp. may define your income for the next few months.
If you pay child support, you may need to take a look at how your income changes will affect child support. Talk to an attorney about what changes you can expect when paying child support with workers’ comp. benefits. For a free consultation on your workers’ comp case, contact Fayetteville workers’ compensation lawyer Ken Kieklak today at (479) 439-1843.
Does Workers’ Compensation Count as “Income” for Child Support?
The amount of child support ordered by a court is usually based off how many children you are paying to support and the income of both parents. Depending on how much money you make, and how much the other parent makes by comparison, a court will arrive at the total amount of child support you pay or receive.
Most times, workers’ compensation will only pay 2/3 of your normal wage (66 2/3%). If this is your only income, and it is less than usual, courts may be willing to recalculate child support payments. This means that if you are paying child support from your workers’ comp. checks, you should ideally pay less support per month. If you are receiving child support while on workers’ comp., you may ultimately be entitled to more support for your children.
Since a court looks at all sources of income when determining child support, they will also look at your workers’ comp. payments. These payments are made because of your injuries, similar to an insurance payment. Unlike some federal disability benefits, they are not “need-based,” so courts should still include these amounts when calculating income for child support calculations.
Can Workers’ Comp. Payments Be Garnished?
Workers’ compensation payments are safe from most creditors – but not from child support. Under Arkansas Code § 11-9-110, workers’ compensation payments are not “assignable” nor “subject to garnishment, attachment, levy, execution, or any other legal process, except for child support and moneys retained by the Department of Correction.” Usually, any money you make could be given to another by setting up some legal transfer of funds. Sometimes, courts award creditors and others a cut of your property or money under things like liens, attachment, or levies. Child support, and some taxes, are virtually the only payments than can come out of your workers’ compensation check.
If you are behind on taxes or debts, your creditors or the Department of Revenue may turn to wage garnishment as a solution. This allows them to take money directly out of paychecks and bank accounts before the money gets to you, so that you have no choice but to make payments. Most creditors cannot access your workers’ comp. payments in this way, but child support can.
The court that orders you to pay child support is permitted to use garnishment and other techniques to enforce their order. If you are behind on paying child support, the recipient may go to court and request wage garnishment. While you receive workers’ compensation checks instead of working wages, your workers’ comp. benefits can be garnished instead. This means that a portion of your weekly payments may be taken out by the court to help pay your child support obligations.
Can I Avoid Losing Workers’ Comp. Benefits to Child Support?
It is important to talk to an attorney about what to expect with your workers’ compensation checks. In some cases, paying child support is not an issue, even with the reduced wages you will receive from workers’ comp. If the judge in your child support case is reasonable and responsive to your situation, you should be ordered to pay a reduced rate for child support if you are making only 2/3 of your normal income. However, if the judge is difficult or refuses to change your child support order, you may face garnishment and other enforcement penalties.
One option may be to receive a lump-sum payment instead of ongoing monthly payments from workers’ comp. This may change how your income is calculated and could help you hold onto more of your workers’ compensation benefits. Talk to an attorney today to begin exploring legal options to protect your workers’ compensation wages from garnishment and child support payments.
Fayetteville Workers’ Comp. Lawyer
If you or a family member was injured in a workplace accident, filing for workers’ comp. may be your best option to recover compensation for medical bills and to continue receiving wages. If you need to pay child support with these wages, a workers’ compensation lawyer may be able to help you understand where that money will go, and what you can do to protect your workers’ comp. benefits. For a free consultation on your case, contact Arkansas workers’ compensation lawyer Ken Kieklak today at (479) 439-1843.
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Fayetteville, AR 72703