Failing to pay child support payments in California can have serious consequences. The penalties for non-payment of child support can include:

  • Wage garnishment orders
  • Suspension of driving privileges
  • Seizing tax refunds
  • Suspending professional licenses
  • And other measures 

However, what happens if you are hurt in a car accident and can’t pay child support payments? Are you automatically excused from making support payments while you are out of work following a car crash?

Even though you were injured in a car accident in California and cannot work, you still owe your child support payments. Until a court orders otherwise, you must continue paying child support as if you were not in a car crash. However, the court might modify your child support order if your income changed substantially because of the car accident.

Filing a Motion To Modify Child Support Payments

Even though you were injured in a traffic accident, your child continues to need your financial support. However, it might be impossible to make the payments if you are out of work because of your injuries. Your income might have stopped completely, or you might receive substantially less income because you now rely on disability payments as your sole source of income. 

Child support payments continue until the court orders you to stop paying the payments. However, California child support laws permit judges to adjust the amount of child support after a substantial change in circumstances. Child support laws are designed to recognize when a change in circumstances justifies a change in child support. 

First, you must file a Request for Order and Income and Expense Declaration. It is wise to consult with a child support lawyer before beginning the process. A court only changes child support when you prove a substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the court issued the current child support order.

Judges consider several factors when deciding whether to change the amount of your child support payments. The court can consider changes in any factors used to calculate the current child support payments. 

Factors that the judge might consider include, but are not limited to:

  • A substantial change in income for one or both parents
  • The child is spending more time with the parent paying child support 
  • A parent loses their job
  • A parent has a new child from another relationship
  • A parent is incarcerated 
  • A child’s needs change, such as an increase in health care, education, or childcare costs
  • A parent becomes incapacitated or disabled

If you cannot work because of injuries sustained in a car accident, you likely have experienced a significant change in your income. The judge may consider this evidence as sufficient cause to modify the child support payments. 

However, the judge will likely review evidence to determine whether you can work but choose not to do so during your recovery. The evidence might include:

  • Your medical records
  • Statements from your physicians
  • Opinions from medical specialists 
  • Your testimony 

Also, the judge can review any factor that impacts child support calculations. Therefore, if your child is spending more time with their other parent, that could work against you since that is a factor in how child support payments are calculated.

Will a Personal Injury Settlement Impact My Child Support Payments in California?

You could be entitled to a substantial settlement for a personal injury claim if a car accident caused your injuries. Hiring a lawyer who specializes in car accident cases can help you file an auto accident claim seeking compensation for non-economic and economic damages.

Unlike tax refunds, lottery winnings, and wages, the court does not automatically seize personal injury settlements to pay child support. However, that does not mean the money from a personal injury case will not impact child support payments. 

The court might use the portion of your personal injury settlement compensating you for lost wages to calculate your child support payments. However, the court would not use the portion of the settlement that compensates you for pain and suffering or other damages to determine your child support obligation.

How your personal injury settlement is structured, your ability to return to work, and other factors can significantly impact the decision. These types of child support cases can be incredibly complex. Therefore, it is wise to seek legal advice from an experienced lawyer.

Contact Our Child Support Law Firm In San Diego, CA

Contact our experienced San Diego child support lawyers at San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC today for legal assistance. Contact our San Diego office at (619) 866 3756 to schedule a free consultation.

San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC
2851 Camino del Rio S #430
San Diego, CA 92108