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Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin 1-866-900-7078

“I’m Afraid My Child’s Father/Mother Will Take the Money from Their Accident Settlement"

At our firm, many of us are parents. We understand that your child being hurt in an accident is the worst thing that can happen to you.

Since cases involving minors are often more complicated and so much is at stake, we recommend all parents reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney for advice. (Click here to talk to one.)

But many parents have initially been afraid of involving an attorney because they believe their child's absentee mom or deadbeat dad might suddenly appear once they hear their child might be entitled to a settlement. Those fears are often well-founded, but the right attorney can help try to make sure funds go where they're really needed.

Two Circumstances Which Can Immediately Exclude the Other Parent

We've seen our share of cases where the parent handling the case does not want the other parent involved. Oftentimes it takes some compromise, but there are two legal scenarios we've utilized to keep the other parent out of the equation:

  1. A parent must be on the birth certificate in order to be involved in the case. If the other parent is not on that document, then he or she cannot be involved - period. That is why we would advise you to give a copy of the birth certificate to your attorney as soon as possible.
  2. A Court document granting the signing parent sole custody. This means that a judge previously signed an order after a hearing, and determined that the legal and physical custody of the minor belongs solely to one parent. A copy of this documentation should also be given immediately to your attorney.

If neither situation exists, then the insurance company can legally require the other parent to be involved or sign off prior to completion of the settlement. But there are ways to reduce the risk that a parent will affect a minor's personal injury claim.

Keeping the Other Parent Out of Decisions - Guardian ad Litem

If you can't provide legal documentation of custody, but still don't want participation from the other parent, you may be able to ask your attorney to hire a "Guardian ad Litem."

A Guardian ad Litem is either a trained community volunteer or, more likely, a licensed attorney, without interest in the outcome of the case. This person is appointed by the Courts to investigate and determine the best interests of any child who is the subject of a Court case.

A Guardian ad Litem's opinion is generally weighted more heavily because he or she is a neutral party with no investment in the outcome of the case.

This is a good option for parents who are both involved in their child's life, but cannot agree with one another on how to proceed. In this situation, it would be best for both parents to agree that a neutral third party, i.e., a Guardian ad Litem, be appointed to handle the matter.

However in the case of an absentee parent, such as an incarcerated or transient parent, you will likely have to show documentation that the parent has generally had no interest or role in the minor child's life.

How North Carolina Laws Protect Your Child's Settlement

Most parents in these situations fear the other parent will try to siphon money from the minor's settlement proceeds. Fortunately, North Carolina courts have considered this possibility.

To protect a minor's settlement, the State requires that settlements for minors, over a certain amount, be placed with the Clerk of Court to be held in trust for the benefit of the minor until the minor turns 18 years of age. The settlement may also, if large enough, be invested and form a structured settlement with the Court's approval. If the minor's settlement is approved by the Court, then the minor's portion of that settlement is placed with the Clerk of Court until age 18. At that time the minor can request that the Court release his or her settlement proceeds after showing valid identification, proof of address, and allowing the Court time to process the request.

Reimbursing You for Medical Expenses

A parent has no claim to the settlement proceeds of a minor with the exception of out of pocket medical expenses paid by that parent. A parent may request at the Court approval hearing that a judge order reimbursement to that parent by showing proof of payment of such expenses. It is ultimately the judge's decision as to whether the parent is reimbursed and for what amount.

A parent's claim for expenses is not a separate claim and will come directly from the minor's portion of the settlement. Because there is no separate pot of money with which to reimburse a parent for a minor's medical expenses, a judge will not make this decision lightly and will weigh all factors available, including, but not limited to, the minor's injuries, age, permanent impairment, future medical needs, as well as the amount of the settlement.

Insurance Company May Use Your Situation Against You

We have seen some insurance companies try to use the fact that another parent is involved to delay settlement or settlement negotiations, especially if the insurance company is contacted by the other parent directly, or the other parent hired an attorney.

However, your attorney can try to help you overcome these obstacles in several ways, including hiring a neutral Guardian ad Litem, and/or by working directly with counsel hired by the other parent to protect the child's best interests.

Either way, your attorney should not let an insurance company prejudice your child's rights by delaying settlement negotiations or refusing to settle due to the involvement of another parent.

North Carolina Car Wreck Attorneys

We're attorneys, but we're also parents. We understand that sometimes you have to fight tooth and nail for your child's best interests - and we'd like to do that on your behalf.

If we have to fight to keep the other parent at bay, we will pull out the tools in our legal toolkit to try to make that happen.

If you need help to try to ensure the best outcome for your child's accident recovery and future click here for a FREE case evaluation or give us a call at 1-866-900-7078. We're here for you 24/7/365.

Stefanie Rodriguez-King joined the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin in 2011 and handles personal injury cases for our clients.

Ms. Rodriguez-King received her J.D. from North Carolina Central University, where she graduated second in her class. In her undergraduate studies, Ms. Rodriguez graduated in the top tier, earning her Political Science degree summa cum laude.

Before coming to James Scott Farrin, she worked for 4 years as a legal writer and editor, where she was immersed in a variety of legal fields, but said she feels the most passion in standing up for those who are mistreated.

Contact Information

Raleigh Law Office

5848-100 Faringdon Place
Raleigh, NC 27609
Phone: 919-834-1184
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Durham Law Office

280 South Mangum Street, Suite 400
Durham, NC 27701
Phone: 919-688-4991
Fax: 800-716-7881

Fayetteville Law Office

517 Owen Drive
Fayetteville, NC 28304
Phone: 910-488-0611
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Charlotte Law Office

1001 Morehead Square Drive, Suite 350
Charlotte, NC 28203
Phone: 704-599-1078
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

New Bern Law Office

1505 South Glenburnie Rd, Unit P
New Bern, NC 28562
Phone: 252-634-9010
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3422

Greenville Law Office

702 G Cromwell Dr.
Greenville, NC 27858
Phone: 252-355-5205
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3227

Greensboro Law Office

300 N. Greene Street, Suite 850
Greensboro, North Carolina 27401
Phone: 336-665-7072
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Goldsboro Law Office

214 South William Street, Suite 3
Goldsboro, NC 27530
Phone: (919)-731-2581
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Henderson Law Office

514 Dabney Drive, Suite 200
Henderson, NC 27536
Phone: 252-492-4600
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Roanoke Rapids Law Office

709 Julian R. Allsbrook Highway
Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870
Phone: 252-537-9670
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Rocky Mount Law Office

3202 Sunset Avenue, Suite B
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
Phone: 252-937-4730
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Sanford Law Office

703-B South Horner Boulevard
Sanford, NC 27330
Phone: 919-775-1564
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Wilson Law Office

2315 Airport Blvd Suite A
Wilson, North Carolina 27896
Phone: 252-246-9090
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Winston-Salem Law Office

301 N. Main Street, Suite 2409-C
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078