When a parent charged with paying child support dies, the surviving parent will wonder whether he/she will receive future payments and how they will be processed. Here are some pertinent questions a parent should ask when a co-parent charged with paying child support dies:
Death of a Non-Custodial Parent
Does the parent have a substantial life insurance policy that names the child has the beneficiary?
If so, the surviving parent should call the insurance company to begin the process of collecting on the insurance policy
Was the deceased parent gainfully employed for a period of time?
If so, the surviving parent can seek benefits on behalf of the child from the Social Security Administration.
Does the parent have any assets?
A parent's estate can include cars, houses, bank accounts, and 401Ks. If a parent does not have life insurance, the estate will become responsible for paying any owed child support payments.
Death of a Custodial Parent
What happens when a custodial parent dies? Who will support the child?
If a custodial parent dies and the noncustodial parent assumes custody, the non-custodial parent can seek a child support modification, if appropriate. A non-custodial parent may also seek child support from the custodial parent's estate (assets) to help with the expenses associated with raising children.
Additionally, if the non-custodial parent does not assume custody of the child after a custodial parent dies, the child's caretaker can collect child support from the non-custodial parent and seek support from the deceased custodial parent's estate.
Partner's Death and Child Support Payments
My partner, charged with paying child support, died. I continue to receive notices from family court in the mail. What should I do?
Call the family court and explain your partner's death and mail the death certificate to the family court because there is a good chance that the court will want evidence. A parent should mail the death certificate directly to the court as sufficient proof of the partner's death.
It's unfortunate when a parent who was charged with paying child support dies. However, the obligation to support a child does not die with the parent. A parent who is seeking answers regarding the death of a parent charged with paying child support should seek help from a qualified family law attorney in his/her state. Additionally, an estate planning attorney can help parents prepare for unforeseen circumstances, such as death or disability.