When a personal injury case is settled or a judgment is recovered for a client, lawyers are required by law to satisfy any outstanding child support obligations that the client may owe. For example, assume that Bob authorizes his attorney, Larry Lawyer, to settle his personal injury case for $30,000. Larry Lawyer deducts $10,000 from the gross settlement proceeds as his legal fee and costs. This leaves Bob a net settlement of $20,000.
However, Bob is divorced, and he owes outstanding child support to his ex-wife for the support of their two minor children. According to court records, Bob is in arrears in his child support payments in the sum of $4,500. Therefore, Larry Lawyer must pay $4,500 to the ex-wife, or the state child support collection agency, leaving a final net balance of $15,500 for Bob.
If Larry Lawyer fails to disburse this payment and satisfy the outstanding child support lien, Larry Lawyer may be personally liable for the child support.