What Happens to Child Support Payments After a Non-Custodial Parent's Death?


What Happens to Child Support When a Parent Dies?

If you are a custodial parent depending upon child support to help care for your children after your divorce, it's important to understand how your support payments will be affected in the event of the non-custodial parent's death.

It is common for a divorce decree to require that a parent paying child support have a life insurance policy designed to guarantee that the support obligation continues to be met. Some policies are paid to directly to the child, which means a court-appointed guardian of the minor child is responsible for the proceeds until the child until turns 18. Others are paid directly to the surviving ex-spouse.

However, there is a danger in having the proceeds paid to the surviving ex-spouse because the money is then subject to any creditors that the ex-spouse might have. The best option is to set up the policy with a guardian under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA). The guardian keeps control of the money until the child turns 21.

gavel sits on a judge's desk to decide on child support obligations

Even after the death of a non-custodial parent, child support payments in California do not end. The parent receiving payments may still be able to collect on the estate if it was outlined in a Marital Settlement Agreement or another court order.

If a parent who is paying child support does not have a life insurance policy, his or her estate is responsible for any owed child support payments. The estate includes the value of any cash in bank accounts, as well as assets like a house, cars, or retirement plan.

Child support arrears are not erased in the event of a non-custodial parent's death. Money owed for back child support payments can be taken out of the estate. If the child's parent was employed, the child should be eligible for survivor's benefits from the Social Security Administration. The custodial parent can seek these benefits on behalf of the child. The amount of the benefit depends upon the worker's average lifetime earnings. There is also a one-time death benefit payment.

How Can We Help?

If you need assistance with a child support related issue, please call Schweitzer Law Partners at (626) 788-5225 or contact us online. Our Pasadena family law firm is eager to provide the help you need to make sure your child is properly cared for.