How is a claim or lawsuit actually settled on behalf of a child? And, is it possible that part of a child’s settlement be used for the benefit of the child before he or she turns 18?
Settlement of claims and lawsuits involving minors requires court approval and supervision, but it is quite normal for settlement funds to be used for the child before he or she turns 18.
First, a settlement must be approved by a court. See Prob.C. Section §2504, 3500, 3600 et seq, and CCP §372. Until the court approves the settlement with a written order, a settlement is not final. Scruton v KAL (1995) An attorney for the minor will ask the court to approve the settlement, and to approve payment of attorney fees and reimbursement of the costs which were expended by the attorney in pursuing the claim or lawsuit. See CCP §372 and CRC (Probate Rules) 7.953 and 7.954 and CRC 378; Fam.C. §6602, and Prob.C. § 3601. The Court will allow attorney fees under a contingency fee agreement, as long as they are reasonable. See CRC (Probate Rules) 7.955 The adult representing the interests of the child (e.g. parent, conservator of the estate, guardian or guardian ad litem) must attend the hearing in court to approve the settlement, unless excused for good cause by the court. See CRC (Probate Rules) 7.952 If the minor is able to speak to the court, the court may ask the minor about the injuries and his or her feelings about settlement; and, in some cases, the court may require that testimony be taken from the minor's treating or examining physician. See CRC (Probate Rules) 7.952 At the end of the hearing, the court will issue a written order using the California Judicial Council form signed by the approving judge.