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Can Workers’ Compensation Benefits Be Garnished for Child Support?

In Arizona, workers’ compensation is regulated by The Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA). Like other states, workers’ compensation in Arizona is a “no-fault” system, which means injured workers can file claims regardless of who is responsible for the injuries. So, even if the worker was partially or fully responsible for the accident, they can still receive workers’ compensation benefits.

When the injury was because of a work-related accident, the injured worker will be able to receive medical care and workers’ compensation benefits, and the same goes for an occupational disease. Under the workers’ compensation system, when an employee files a claim, they cannot file a separate lawsuit against their employer.

Do I Still Have to Pay Child Support?

If you are injured in a job-related accident and you are approved for workers’ compensation benefits, your benefits will be less than your regular earnings, which can make it difficult to keep up with your child support payments. You may ask, “Do I still have to pay child support since I’m not working?”

Under the law, parents are required to financially support their children whether they are married or not. This obligation does not end because a noncustodial parent is injured at work, in a car accident, diagnosed with a serious mental illness, sick with a terminal disease, unemployed or incarcerated. The only way a parent is relieved of this obligation is if their parental rights are terminated. So, if you are injured on-the-job, you are still on the hook for child support.

Can your workers’ compensation benefits be garnished for child support? Yes, they can. The same goes for unemployment benefits and Social Security Disability (SSDI). If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), those benefits, however, cannot be taken from you to pay child support.

If you expect to be on workers’ compensation for some time and your income has taken a hit, contact Bowman Smith & Kallen immediately so we can help petition the family court for a downward modification, one that reflects your current financial circumstances. Otherwise, your child support will continue to accrue according to the existing order and there will be no way to go back and get the balance reduced from the date of the injury.