Child support can continue upon the death of the custodial or non-custodial parent. It is prudent to take steps ahead of time to ensure this is the case for both your peace of mind and the financial well-being of your child.
It is in your child’s best interest that support continues after your death or the death of their other parent. The first and best way to see to it that your child’s support remains uninterrupted is to seek legal advice in advance.
Contacting an experienced family law attorney and making an estate plan in the event of accidental or otherwise unforeseen death will prepare your child for their future and allow the other parent to focus on helping your child through the grieving process should that time ever come. Remember to update your estate plan in the event of major life changes such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of additional children.
If a non-custodial parent dies without an estate plan, there are avenues a custodial parent can pursue to collect support on behalf of their child.
First, check to see if the non-custodial parent had a life insurance policy naming the child as a beneficiary. If so, you will need a copy of the death certificate to collect on the policy for your child.
Second, you may be able to seek Social Security benefits on your child’s behalf if the non-custodial parent was gainfully employed for a set period of time, your child is still in high school, and/or your child has a disability that began before age twenty-two.
Third, the non-custodial parent’s estate may have assets that can be sold or liquidated to pay for any child support payments that are owed. You will need to contact the estate’s personal representative to find out about any assets and debts of the estate.
Finally, if there is a will naming the child, assets of the estate will be distributed accordingly. Otherwise, any asset distribution will be in accordance with state law. An estate lawyer can determine your child’s share of the non-custodial parent’s estate.
If the custodial parent dies, the main concern is the custody of the child. This is a matter best discussed and planned for in advance. The child may be cared for by the non-custodial parent, another relative, a grandparent, or a family friend.
A non-custodial parent who takes custody of the child may seek child support as discussed above from the custodial parent’s estate, Social Security, or a life insurance policy. If another party, other than the non-custodial parent, assumes child custody they may seek child support from the non-custodial parent.
If you are a custodial or non-custodial parent and would like the help of an experienced family law attorney in making an estate plan or securing future support for your child, call Wilson-Goodman, PLLC. At Wilson-Goodman, PLLC, our Chandler divorce attorneys are passionate about protecting the best interests of your child and providing you with excellent legal support and client service.