How to settle a minor’s claim in California

“When the voices of children are heard on the green
And laughing is heard on the hill.”

— William Blake

California law states that the Court must approve all settlements done on behalf of a minor plaintiff. Probate Code  2504, 3500; CCP 372; CRC 7.950.

Follow this general outline to settle a minor’s claim. Although I don’t cover everything and I make certain assumptions, this should put you on the right path. And I apologize for the upcoming legal terms; I can’t avoid it.

CCP means California Code of Civil Procedure. CRC means California Rules of Court.

Step 1

Complete and file Form MC 350, which you can find here. It’s called Petition to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim. You can also complete and file an expedited version of the form. It’s here. Then complete and file Form MC 351, which is here.

If a lawsuit has been filed, file those forms in the same proceeding. Generally, the minor’s parents can petition the Court without a formal Guardian ad Litem appointment. Probate Code 3500.

If a lawsuit has not been filed, file the petition in the county where the minor resides. CCP 372; Probate Code 3500(b). You must also file an Application for Guardian ad Litem too, which is here. And file this document, unless you plan on using a trust agreement.

The forms should be filed and there may be filing fees. Be forewarned, the forms are detailed and several types of documents may be required.

Step 2

You will be given a hearing date, unless you filed Form MC 351. Attend the hearing date with the minor. CRC 7.952. The Court must decide whether to approve the petition. If the Court does not approve the petition, you may have to resubmit it. If the petition is approved, however, you will receive a signed copy of the Court’s order granting the petition. Follow the Court’s order. You may be required to set up a blocked account. If the settlement amount is $5,000 or less, the amount may be given to the custodial parent in trust until the minor turns 18.

Step 3

If the petition is approved, the Court should set a review hearing, which you should attend. At that time, the Court will confirm that its order was carried out.

There are lots of steps and paperwork, but that’s what it takes.

Addendum: Here’s how the San Diego Court explains the procedure.

Second Addendum: Here’s a free PowerPoint of the blog post.

Questions? Contact Me for a free consultation.

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