What happens to child support if the paying parent dies?
If your ex-spouse or partner is paying child support, you expect that support to continue until your child reaches adulthood. But what happens if your co-parent passes away?
If they had an estate plan in place (even just a will or trust), contact the executor to find out what provisions were made for your child. If your ex didn’t have an estate plan, or if they made no mention of your child in the plan, what can you do to make sure you have the money you need to raise your child?
Life insurance and Social Security survivor benefits
Find out what other provisions your ex may have made for your child, if any. They may have a life insurance policy under which your child is named as beneficiary. As soon as you can obtain a copy of the death certificate, you should be able to begin collecting on that policy.
You can also collect Social Security survivor benefits for your child. If you and your ex were married for at least 10 years and you haven’t remarried, you can also collect spousal survivor benefits.
Can the estate continue child support payments?
If your co-parent didn’t leave your child enough money to cover the amount of financial support they had been providing, you probably have a good chance of getting the child support payments continued by the estate. (Whether someone has an estate plan in place or not when they die, they still have an “estate” under the law.)
If your deceased ex had another spouse or partner at the time of their death, things could get a bit more complicated. However, that doesn’t change the obligations that your child’s parent had to them.
If you’re in this situation, it’s wise to consult an experienced estate planning attorney rather than depend on your ex’s family to do the right thing for your child. Your attorney can help ensure that you get whatever your ex intended to leave your child. If your ex wasn’t the kind of person to plan ahead or didn’t want to consider their eventual demise, you may have to go to court to get the support you need to raise your child.