When a child is involved in a motor vehicle accident, the level of concern is always heightened, but the extra attention does not stop there. Accident settlements involving children are also more complex, especially if their parents are no longer married. Since an adult must serve as the child's representative during the settlement process, there are often questions about which parent is able to serve in this role.
The terms of the custody agreement between both parents are often used to determine which parent will serve as the child's representative during the settlement process. Typically, the parent with full physical and legal custody of the child will be designated the legal representative by a judge.
In this role, the parent will have full authority over the settlement and the allocation of funds. However, it is worth noting that if both parents have equal physical and legal custody, a judge can decide which of the parents will serve as the primary during the settlement based on what is deemed best for the child.
While one parent is typically tasked with the role of representative during the settlement process, it is not to say that the other parent does not have a say-so. If both parents share legal custody, both parents may need to be in mutual agreement about the terms of the settlement.
One parent cannot accept the settlement without the consent of the other parent. Keep in mind that the representative designation is more or less about who has access to the funds, not total control over determining what settlement offer is best for the child.
Another element that is present in personal injury cases involving children is the monitoring of the trust. Settlements for minors typically require that only a portion of the compensation be available immediately; the rest must be placed into a trust.
In order to release funds from the trust, even the parent who is deemed the representative will need to submit a request and wait for approval. This process is required to ensure that the child's awarded funds are not improperly allocated. However, not all requests are approved; only those deemed necessary for the child's well-being or care are typically authorized.
Keep in mind that every situation is different. Speak with a local legal agency such as Farrar Hennesy & Tanner LLC to discuss the details of your child's accident and custody arrangements to determine how to move forward.