Q
How will the Court handle my child's settlement?

A

When settling a case for a child the process is different than settling a case for an adult. In the state of Virginia, a settlement for a person "under disability" must be approved by the Court. A minor, a person under the age of 18, is considered to be under disability by Virginia law. The settlement hearing can be brought in any court in which the case could have been filed. If the court approves the settlement it is binding upon the minor, unless it is set aside for fraud.

If the Court approves a settlement for a person under disability there are four ways that it can be distributed to that person.

  1. The payment can be made to the Court and held until the child is 18.
  2. The money can be paid to a qualified fiduciary to oversee the settlement for the person under the disability. In order to appoint a fiduciary, the Court must inquire into the nature of the relationship between the fiduciary and the minor.
  3. If the settlement is $25,000 or less, the Court may turn the money over to the minor if they believe the minor is competent enough to handle the funds. The Court may also turn the money over to an administrator to handle they money for the person under the disability. In the case of a child, their parent would most likely be the administrator.
  4. A structured settlement may be set up. Essentially, this is an annuity that gains interest while the child is a minor. The distributions of the funds would start after the child’s 18th birthday, but can come at a later age. If the money is used to purchase an annuity, the annuity must be irrevocably guaranteed by an insurance company that has been rated A+ or better by Best’s Insurance Report. This is an added precaution to make ensure the funds are saved for the child. If the insurance company that provides the annuity is not rated A+ or better, a bond must be posted.

In very rare cases, the Court will release the money to the parents; however, Courts are extremely cautious of releasing money to the parents due to previous cases of fraud.

The law in Virginia was written to contain an extra layer of security to protect the child’s settlement from fraud. If you are pursuing a case involving a minor, please contact our office for further information.

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