Judicial Approval of Settlements Involving Minors
To obtain judicial approval of a settlement on behalf of a minor, Plaintiff should file a Complaint (often called a “friendly suit”) in the Civil Division. It is recommended that Plaintiff work closely with Defendant in advance to arrange for an Answer to be filed promptly, after which Plaintiff may file a Motion for Judicial Approval of Settlement. This motion should lay out the facts of the case, a list of injuries suffered and costs incurred, and the details of the settlement. A judge in JIC will review these documents and may schedule a hearing on the matter.
If the settlement amount the minor is entitled to receive is above $3000 (after the deduction of costs, fees and other expenses), DC Code Section 21-120(b) requires that a person may not receive any money on behalf of the minor “before he is appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction as guardian of the estate of the minor to receive the money or property, and qualifies as such.” It is recommended that the guardian appointment process be completed before filing the Friendly Suit. This is done in the Probate Division.
The Minor and the Guardian, if applicable, should attend the hearing. The judge may have specific questions for them and may want to speak with them directly.
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Click here for a guide published by the Court on Filing for Guardianship of the Estate of a Minor.
Click here for additional information about the Probate Division, including hours and location.