CHILD SUPPORT AND WORKER’S COMPENSATION SETTLEMENTS
Under section 505(a) of the Dissolution Act, a trial court has the authority to order either, or both, parents to pay “an amount reasonable and necessary” for the support of the child. ILCS 5/505(a). In Illinois, there is a two-step process in calculating the minimum amount of child support the noncustodial parent must pay the custodial parent governed by 17 Section 505(a)(1) and (a)(2). First, the trial court must determine the parties’ income; then the court will appropriate that income and set the child support amount. Mayfield v. Mayfield, 2013 IL 114655, 989 N.E.2d 601.
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act defines “income” as “any form of periodic payment to an individual, regardless of source, including, but not limited to wages, salary, [and] workers' compensation.” In re Marriage of Dodds, 222 Ill. App. 3d 99, 583 N.E.2d 608 (2d Dist. 1991). In instances in which a court determines a settlement could have been taken in periodic payments, but the party chose to instead receive the settlement in a lump-sum payment, the amount is considered and included as a part of the party’s net income. In re Marriage of Dodds, 222 Ill. App. 3d 99, 583 N.E.2d 608 (2d Dist. 1991). Income encompasses valuable benefit to one party that enhances their wealth and facilitated their ability to support the child. 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(3). In re Marriage of Rogers, 213 Ill. 2d 129, 820 N.E.2d 386 (2004).
This remains true when one party succeeds on a worker’s compensation claim for injuries suffered after the dissolution of marriage. The settlement amount is still considered “income” and subject to the child support order. The party is entitled to a percentage of the lump-sum settlement as child support in the absence of any evidence to support a different amount. Mayfield v. Mayfield, 2013 IL 114655, 989 N.E.2d 601.
However, worker’s compensation cannot be calculated as a marital asset and as income for purposes of calculating child support without accompanying adjustments in order to avoid “double counting” the sum. As such, when worker’s compensation is apportioned as marital property, the amount awarded for child support based on the settlement must be reduced proportionately in order to avoid “double counting” of the money. In re Marriage of Schacht, 343 Ill. App. 3d 348, 797 N.E.2d 236 (2d Dist. 2003).