Workers’ Compensation & Family Law: The Connection

It would seem that there wouldn’t be much of a connection between a workers’ compensation claim and proceedings in family court. Unfortunately, though, the two are far too often tied together. When a primary breadwinner is injured at work, it can have a dramatic impact on his or her family, whether or not there is discord or divorce. Here are the most common family law issues that arise in workers’ compensation proceedings.

The Payment of Child Support

For many non-custodial parents in New Jersey, child support is paid directly out of the parent’s paycheck, by the employer. Often, when a workers’ compensation award is approved, the worker receives a benefit check without the deduction of child support, mandating that the worker make the payments directly. In many instances, though, this doesn’t happen, and an arrearage develops. You can request in the workers’ compensation proceeding that payments be deducted by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier and sent to pay your child support obligation.

In New Jersey, when a permanent disability award is approved, the judge is required to determine if there is any child support arrearage. If so, the injured worker is entitled to the first $2,000, but the arrearage must then be satisfied.

The Division of Marital Property

Under New Jersey law, an injured worker has a right to three types of compensation for a work-related injury: the payment of medical bills, temporary disability benefits, and permanent disability benefits. Any amount received to compensate for a permanent disability is generally not subject to division (known as “equitable distribution”) in a divorce proceeding. However, both temporary disability and medical benefits can be subject to a property allocation. Because medical benefits are seldom, if ever, paid to the worker, though, they are typically not an issue.

Other Civil Lawsuits

Sometimes people that are injured on the job also file other types of lawsuits as well.  If that is the case, then as part of your divorce, a judge can decide that some or all of the lawsuit monies are marital – meaning your spouse can also get a piece of the proceeds from the suit.

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