Death of a parent and how child support is affected
There are many things in our lives we have no control over. For all of us, two things we cannot control are death and taxes.
Questions about child support will get even more complicated when a parent dies. Do child support payments continue even after a parent’s death? Who is responsible? While child custody laws vary by state, the general answer is that child support should continue after a parent’s death. The child needs to be taken care of; this fact does not change. In the majority of cases, this will require a modification to the child support order after the death of a parent and an income source has been identified.
Where does child support come from after a parent dies? Courts generally look to a few sources like Social Security and life insurance policies. The first place that child support can usually be received from is the deceased parent’s life insurance policy. In many cases the parent names the children as beneficiaries; if that’s the case, collecting should be an easier task. Life insurance payments are especially crucial if the parent had no other assets or source of income. Insurance policies are meant to protect their living survivors and to help in case of premature death.
Social Security can also be garnished for child support. This would require going to court to file an income withholding order for the survivor benefits; child support generally takes priority in situation for this. Support from this source could continue until the child has graduated high school or possibly college.
Child support payments can also come out of the deceased estate through the assets. This includes things like a house, any cars owned, and bank accounts. In a situation like this, it would require an attorney to attach to the estate and try to collect. What’s important to remember about going after the parent’s estate is that this requires a timely filing of a creditor’s claim against their estate. Child support will once again is usually a priority when an estate is distributed, but there is a particular process involved. It’s best to contact an experienced probate attorney to help you through this process.
Lastly, if you are currently a noncustodial parent (in other words, your child is not living with you and you are the person paying support) but you would like to now become the custodial parent after the death of the other parent, this is possible in many cases. Speak with the county or attorney on steps needed to modify the order and have the child reside with you.