Are there Special Laws or Procedures in the State of Florida for the Settlement of a Minor Child?
In the State of Florida, settlements on behalf of minor child must follow the rules, procedures, and protections set forth in the Florida Statutes. Pursuant to Section 744.387, Florida Statutes, the parent / guardian of a mnior child may settle a claim on behalf of a minor child when the gross amount of the settlement is $15,000 or less. When the gross amount of the settlement exceeds $15,000, then the parent / guardian has a duty to seek Court approval of the settlement. The purpose of this statute is to protect the interests of the minor child. It provides judicial oversight to injury claims of minor children.
It should be emphasized that the parents / guardians need to act in the best interests of the minor child. Due to the complexities of Florida law and the specific rules and regulations in place for minor settlements, it is advisable that parents / guardians retain the services of an experienced and qualified Florida Personal Injury Lawyer for these cases. While no article or book can provide a parent / guardian with all the rules, laws, and nuances involving the appropriate handling of a settlement on behalf of a minor, here are some guidelines to consider when dealing with a minor settlement:
Gross Settlement $15,000 or Less. In many Florida jurisdictions, a settlement of $15,000 or less will not require a Court approval or the appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem. Even though the Florida Statutes on point do not require a Court order for settlements of this amount, many insurance companies will still require a Court order before distributing any funds for a settlement on behalf of a minor child.
Gross Settlement Over $15,000. When the gross settlement is over $15,000, the parent / guardian is required to file a Petition for Approval of Settlement. In these cases, a Judge can review the settlement and then make the determination if the settlement is in the best interests of the minor child. If the net proceeds of the settlement are under $15,000, then a Judge may distribute the funds to the parents to be spent for the benefit of the child. In many cases, there are no formal restrictions provided on settlements involving net proceeds $15,000 and below.
Net Proceeds Over $15,000. When the net proceeds from a settlement exceed $15,000, a formal guardianship is required to safeguard the funds. If the Judge approves the settlement, the funds will placed into a restricted account as approved by the Judge. Thereafter the only way to withdraw funds from the account is by Court order.