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My 16-year-old child wants to buy a car with her settlement...

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My 16-year-old child wants to buy a car with her settlement...

Posted by Brian Anderson (owner) on Jan 03 2013
My 16-year-old child wants to buy a car with her settlement... >>

When I am talking to the parents of a child who is about to receive money in a personal injury settlement, they frequently tell me that their child wants to buy a car with the settlement. I usually respond...

Minor settlement

Sorry, that is probably not going to happen. Even though your 16-year-old can drive and has reached the age of consent in Washington State, she hasn't reached the legal age of majority so a judge would need to approve it. 

What? A judge would need to approve it? She can’t spend her own money? No. The rules for minor settlements require that any money from an injury settlement be placed into a blocked bank account until the child reaches the age of majority, or age 18 in Washington State (or high school graduation, whichever is later, in 45 other states). 

How can this be? Especially in a time when even the spotted owl has rights? The answer is although the Civil Rights Movement in the United States has for decades focused on the rights of women and minorities, it has largely neglected the rights of children. Notwithstanding the general neglect of children in the movement, some laws have increased protections for children; however, the same laws have decreased some of children’s rights. For instance, out of an abundance of caution, children no longer have the right to work in less safe, or higher paying, work environments. Also, minimum wage in many states has increased to the point of pricing unskilled laborers, such as children, out of the marketplace. It's no wonder 7 out of 10 teens are jobless in the summer.

But back to the rules for minor settlements. If your child receives money in an injury settlement, the rules say the money must be put into a blocked account until the child reaches the age of majority. Before age 18 the money can only be removed by order of the court. How about letting the parents take care of the money? Nope. The lawmakers addressed that, too, and specifically prohibit family members from being the only ones with control over the money.

In my experience, judges don't like releasing money for cars, but they do allow money to be released for medical reasons, and they may do the same for educational purposes. If only there were some way to justify the purchase of the car for education... and CDL practice doesn't work, because age 18 is the minimum there, too.   



Last changed: Jan 03 2013 at 11:54 AM

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