Child Support Issues in NC Workers’ Comp Claims
NC WORKERS’ COMPENSATION AND CHILD SUPPORT
Child support is frequently one of the tricky, hidden issues in a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim. Under North Carolina law, “no claim for compensation under (the Workers’ Compensation Act) shall be assignable, and all compensation and claims therefor shall be exempt from all claims of creditors and from taxes.” NCGS § 97-21. This means that typically benefits from a workers’ comp case in NC can not be assigned, or subject to creditor claims or garnishment. However this provision does not apply to child support payments, which are not viewed by the North Carolina courts as “debts.”
Garnishment of NC Workers’ Comp Payments for Child Support.
Generally, up to 40% of an injured workers weekly compensation payments can be withheld or “garnished” and applied to meet child support obligations. Workers’ compensation payments are included as income for the purpose of determining a parent’s presumptive level of child support. Workers’ compensation awards or settlements can also be considered in determining the amount of support.
Lien for Past Due NC Child Support
Under certain circumstances, NCGS § 58-3-185(a) creates a lien against a NC workers’ compensation claim for past due child support. The lien applies to nonrecurring payments, including settlements, greater than $3000. While the statute clearly sets out the precise conditions where the lien applies, insurance companies and employers frequently do not understand the requirements, and may insist that any outstanding child support obligation be satisfied from the settlement proceeds. There is no limitation on what percentage of a workers’ compensation settlement must be applied to the child support obligation so great care should be taken in settling workers’ compensation claims involving child support obligations. It is sometimes possible to negotiate the amount of the child support lien, particularly if the workers’ compensation claim is denied, and the alternative may be that nobody will receive anything.
For more information about Child Support Issues in NC Workers’ Comp Claims contact Kevin Bunn, a North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney located in Cary, NC. Call or email for your free consultation with a NC workers’ comp lawyer.