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Judges Have the Final Word in Most Child Settlements

I’ve written before on how South Carolina law protects children from wasting settlements by designating who oversees the money until adulthood.

Let’s take a closer look at the final part of that process in most cases—the court hearing where a judge decides whether to approve the settlement. Since this determines the outcome of your child’s case, I’ll remind you going to court without a lawyer can be like going to surgery without a surgeon. But that decision—like what’s in your child’s best interest here—remains yours.

Getting the Judge to Sign Off on the Settlement

Here are the ingredients to convincing a judge to approve your child’s settlement and finalize the deal:

A Court Hearing Before the Judge

You must present evidence to convince the judge that the settlement is in your child’s best interest. The court will be especially interested in assuring the child’s money is protected until adulthood, and also in making sure that medical providers get paid.

A Petition to Settle the Case

Official court documents must be done right. Before the judge questions you, he’ll review your sworn petition, signed by one or both parents, asking the court to approve the settlement. If you’re separated or divorced, the question can get controversial (as you might imagine). In that case, the custodial parent usually has the first right to submit the petition.

The petition must properly summarize the basis for the settlement. One item of particular interest to the court is the amount of insurance available to cover your child’s injuries. A good injury attorney can usually figure this out and work to get it all, or at least give you as a parent peace of mind knowing you got the most possible under the circumstances.

The petition must specifically state who gets paid from the settlement and how much. Naturally, it’s also got to specifically answer the most important question: exactly how much money your child gets, and how it will be protected until adulthood.

Lots of Other Paperwork Prepared Exactly Right

Specific financial paperwork must be handled with care. Regardless which option you choose to protect your child’s settlement money, you’re going to need some very precise financial paperwork done right and on time. Yet another benefit of having a lawyer is that we handle the paperwork for you. This often involves coordinating with both a structured settlement company and opposing counsel. That’s a lot of moving parts to handle, especially if you have no experience in this area.

A Court Order to Ratify the Agreement

Approval comes in the form of a written order. If the judge approves it, you get it in writing, filed at the courthouse. A good attorney can help to speed up getting that order to you. In our cases, we aim to get the order the same day as the settlement hearing. The order should direct who gets paid and how much, especially as it relates to your child.

The Devil Is in the Details, So Why Set Yourself Up to Worry About It?

If your child gets seriously hurt, you’ve got way more pressing things to worry about than making sure court paperwork is done right just so you can finally put the case behind you. And every parent wants the best for their child, so why not hire a professional who handles these cases for a living to make sure you get the best outcome for your child?

This is your child’s only chance to be compensated for an awful experience he or she should never have been forced to live through. You owe it to your child to give him or her the best shot at the best outcome, which could help get a jump start on adulthood later.

For all you’ve been through as a parent, ushering your child down the road of recovery, you deserve the peace of mind knowing that things are being taken care of. You can focus on parenting and let us handle the legal details.

If you’ve got any questions related to your child’s injury, feel free to email us or start a live chat right where you are. The only thing it’ll cost you to meet with us is time—which we’re happy to give you, as shown in this quick video.

 

Rob Usry
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Rob is a South Carolina personal injury and criminal defense lawyer.

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