Nobody expects that an ex-spouse will die suddenly while their children are still minors. It is assumed that both parents will live long enough to at least see them through into their first years at college. The death of a spouse can cause a financial shock, and the death of an ex can surely deliver a similar shock if they are still paying their former spouse child support. It may be difficult for the custodial parent to get the money owed in back support which could put them in dire financial straits.

Estate Issues

A divorce decree should be created to keep minor children protected in all situations, including the death of a parent. Ideally, the decree should mandate that the parent paying child support will get life insurance to distribute to their children in the event that the parent dies before completing child support payments.

Once a supporting parent has passed on, payments also cease unless arrangements were made for payments to continue payment past their death. If the parent was behind on child support, then the estate they left will owe the amount of past due payment. When the estate opens for the probate process, then the ex spouse or state’s child support enforcement agency will be able to file a claim with probate court for the past-due amount. Usually the estate will have to pay the debt before assets are distributed.

What if the Children are Named as Heirs?

If no will exists for the supporting parent, the state’s particular laws determine who receives the assets. If they died without a surviving spouse, then the children typically become the heirs to the estate. A guardian or conservator appointed by the court will represent the children in this case and will file for immediate possession to benefit the minor children during the probate process.

Will the Children Receive Social Security Benefits?

Usually minor children receive Social Security death benefits when a parent dies to replace the income a parent would have provided. The dollar amount is based on the portion of what the income would have been when the spouse was living and contributing to them. In order to receive these benefits, the other parent or guardian must petition the Social Security Administration.

If your ex spouse has died suddenly or you are simply planning ahead for the future, consult with child support lawyers Plano, TX residents trust who can answer any questions you have about child support.


Thank you to our contributors at Scroggins Family Law for the following information.

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