Case Caption: Dale Dupigny v. Kaaren E. TysonCase Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2013-0142Date: 02/24/2017Author: Swan, Ive Arlington Citation: Summary:

In a child support order on review from the Division of Paternity and Child Support of the Virgin Islands Department of Justice, the Superior Court correctly interpreted the definition of income for child support purposes contained in 16 V.I.C. § 341(e) to include a lump-sum personal injury settlement payment. Because limiting the definition of income for purposes of child support obligations to payments made in periodic installments would not promote the best interests of the children of the Territory, and would undermine the manifest legislative intent underlying the entire child support statutory scheme, the Superior Court was correct when it concluded that a personal injury settlement payment is income for child support purposes. Further, because the definition of income in the federal tax code serves a different purpose-generation of revenue for the operation of the federal government, while § 341 addresses income for determining a parent's obligation to support his or her children-the Superior Court correctly rejected use of the federal income tax definition of income. While the definition of income for child support purposes specifically lists awards in civil suits, the Superior Court abused its discretion when it determined that the gross proceeds from the personal injury settlement in this case were income under § 341(e) without also considering whether inclusion of the total settlement proceeds would work a hardship, as required by 16 V.I.C. § 345(c). The November 15, 2013 order is vacated and the matter is remanded for further proceedings.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion