Is It Possible to Collect Child Support From a Deceased Parent?

As a divorced parent, you and your family depend on the payments you receive in child support from your former spouse. If tragedy strikes and your former spouse passes away, your financial responsibilities to your kids still stay the same. Your children will still require the same amount of care, food, clothing, and housing as they did before – even more so from you if you and your deceased spouse previously shared custody. Here’s how to navigate the complex subject of child support from a deceased parent in San Diego.

Child Support Payments Live On After a Parent’s Death in CA

As is the case in all states, the California family courts award child support to help the primary caregiver with childcare-related costs and expenses. One parent will have to pay the primary caregiver a court-ordered amount in child support monthly until the child turns 18. In some cases, support payments will last until the child is 19 (if the child is still in high school and lives at home) or longer for dependent children with disabilities.

If a paying parent passes away while a child is still under 18 and/or living at home, the full-time parent may wonder how he or she will afford the bills without monthly support payments. Will the untimely former spouse’s death terminate the child support agreement? Luckily, the answer is “No” in California and most other states. The courts do not think it is fair that a child should not only have to lose a parent, but also lose support payments that provide him or her with better quality of life.

Child support payments in California will continue after the death of the paying parent. Several family law cases in California regarding such an event have held that the paying spouse’s estate will take on the responsibility of paying out a child support agreement after the decedent’s death. The decedent’s estate includes all of the deceased person’s property, assets, bank accounts, investments, etc. left behind after death. The responsibility of a child support payment will go toward the estate’s debt.

How to Continue Receiving Child Support After a Spouse’s Death

In most cases, a deceased parent will leave behind enough of an estate to cover the remainder of court-ordered child support payments to the full-time parent. In these cases, probate court will organize financial matters relating to the individual’s death, including child support debt. As the full-time parent, you may have to attend probate court to help settle these matters. After probate, the estate will continue to make child support payments as the deceased parent would have.

In the event that a former spouse’s estate does not have the means to cover remaining child support payments, there may be other means for a full-time parent to get the financial assistance he or she needs to care for children. A life insurance policy that names the children as beneficiaries, for example, can provide benefits for surviving children. Call your spouse’s insurance company to see if this is an option.

The deceased parent may also have left behind Social Security benefits for children if he or she was gainfully employed and paid Social Security taxes for any period of time. Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) for information about this possibility. If it was the custodial parent that passed away and the non-custodial parent assumes custody, he or she can qualify for a child support modification. The deceased custodial parent’s estate may then contribute to expenses involved with caring for the children.

Get a Professional’s Opinion

A death in the family is difficult enough without having to deal with complicated child support matters alone. Work with an experienced San Diego attorney from Boyd Law for legal issues as complex as collecting child support from a deceased parent.