Can Child Support Be Taken Out of Workers' Comp Benefits?

Posted By Katz, Leidman, Freund & Herman || 5-Dec-2018

In New York, noncustodial parents are obligated to pay child support until their children turn 21. But what if a noncustodial parent is injured in a workplace accident and has to receive workers’ compensation? In that case, are the workers’ compensation benefits untouchable? Will the parent be relieved from paying child support until they go back to work? These are questions we hear often.

For starters, it’s important to understand that an illness, injury, or disability does not relieve a noncustodial parent of their child support obligation. If you are injured in a workplace accident and cannot work, that does not mean you stop paying child support. If you are injured on the job or off, you are still on the hook for child support.

Is Workers’ Compensation Off Limits?

Workers’ compensation benefits are NOT off limits to child support collection agencies. Like bonuses, commissions, insurance settlements, Social Security benefits, stock options, dividends, self-employment income, tax refunds, and lottery winnings, workers’ compensation can be garnished to pay child support arrears for children in New York. To learn more, click here.

In New York, workers’ compensation benefits are 2/3 of an injured worker’s average weekly wage, times the percentage of disability. However, a worker’s weekly benefit cannot exceed the state’s weekly maximum.

As of this writing, if the accident occurred between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, the weekly maximum is $904.74 for total or partial disability. What does this have to do with child support? Essentially, a worker’s income can drop by hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a month while they’re receiving workers’ compensation, so it can be hard to meet their monthly child support obligation.

If you’re injured at work and you can no longer afford your monthly child support obligation, contact your local family court right away and petition for a downward modification. Child support is not retroactive, so you want to act fast. What’s more, child support cannot be adjusted lower until a court orders it. So, we recommend filing a petition for a modification sooner than later.

Related: Can I Get Workers’ Comp if I’m At-Fault?