“Help, the insurance company is telling me that we have to file with the probate court to approve a settlement and that I as the parent don’t get any of the money as a result of my child’s injury!”
Unfortunately for cases where the gross amount of the settlement is over $15,000.00, this is true.
Georgia law says that where the child is injured and the amount is over $15,000.00, you will need to file a Petition to Compromise a Doubtful Claim of the Minor with the probate court to approve the minor’s settlement. The Georgia probate court has standardized documents for the petition which can be found here.
If the child will actually be receiving more than $15,000.00 due to an injury claim, net of the lawyer’s fees, then a guardian or conservator of the funds also needs to be appointed.
“Well, what about the money. Can’t I spend it on school for my child.” Most judges will not allow this. They reason that you would have standard education and child rearing costs anyway and the money should be there for the child when they become an adult. You can always file a petition to encroach on the settlement funds but in most cases, the judge will not grant the request.
Bottom line: if you have a claim where your child is going to settle for more than $15,000.00 net of fees, the probate court will be heavily involved and will dictate what, if anything, you may spend the money on on behalf of the child.
Please note that if the case was already in litigation, these motions would be filed with the trial judge presiding over the case.