by John Darer® CLU ChFC CSSC RSP CLTC
Petitions for infant compromise that include structured settlements in certain New York courts, such as Westchester County, are apparently being submitted using only the initials of the minor. So instead of John Smith, an infant, it would read J.S. an infant, or John S. This is an important new development that is long overdue, in my opinion.
Courtrooms traditionally have been open to the public, and anyone who wanted to watch a trial could, as long as there was a seat available.
However, the right of access is never absolute. The courts usually apply a balancing test to determine whether the interest in access outweighs any interest in confidentiality.
- See more about public access to court records here
Pros of Initials vs Full Names in Court Records for Minors
- While public access to court records is an important right, does the community really need to know that a minor has an asset, whether it be cash, a trust or structured settlement due to a tragic event?
- How would the publication of the minors name and identifiable information be in the best interest of the minor if it leads to court scrapers working for or on behalf of structured settlement buyers putting this information into a database so that the child or his parents begin to get harassed by structured settlement buyers to sell their payments in the years leading up to age 18?
- How would the publication of the minor's name and identifiable information be in the best interest of the minor if it leads to a level of unwanted notoriety that places the lives of the minor, his or her siblings, or his or her parents in danger, or negatively affects them socially?
- Since when did a structured settlement buyer become your mama or your daddy? Some parents choose not to discuss the structured settlement right away so they can instill the proper values in their children. Should it not be up to the parents to determine when their child is mature enough and the appropriate time to discuss their structured settlement.
Cons of Initials vs Full Names in Court Records for Minors
Tracking of annuitant for child support, criminal restitution or civil restitution, or the IRS, is far more difficult if the name does not come up. Some argue that this should happen once the child hits the age of majority.
Use of Initials in Petitions for Structured Settlement Transfers
Some structured settlement buyers attempt to use initials in pleadings, thinly veiled attempts to freeze out competitors who might offer better deals to annuitants. John Hancock recently objected to petitions made by a structured settlement buyer in Ohio and Georgia where the structured settlement buyer attempted to use only initials.