How to Collect Back Child Support When a Parent Dies


Losing a parent can be devastating for a child even if the parent was the non-custodial parent in divorce proceedings. However, if that parent was also paying child support to help that child, it will be doubly troubling. Procedures can be taken, though, to ensure that the child has not only continuing support but also payment of any child support that was owed at the time of the non-custodial parent's death.

  • Contact the estate of the deceased parent about life insurance policies. Many times the non-custodial parent is required to take out an insurance policy naming the child as beneficiary when the child support agreement is set up. The life insurance policy is designed to make sure the child is provided for in the event of the non-custodial parent's death. If set up properly, the payout amount on the life insurance should cover any future and owed child support.

  • Ask your state case worker to place a claim against the estate for back child support. The unpaid child support is an outstanding debt that the non-custodial parent had. As such, it needs to be paid from the estate before anything can be bequeathed. To do this, a claim needs to be placed with the estate. In some states, such as Texas, this is automatic and part of the state legal code.

  • Contact the Social Security Administration about survivor benefits. Unmarried children under 18 years can receive survivor benefits from the Social Security Administration if the non-custodial parent worked long enough. According to the Social Security Administration, 98 percent of workers' children are able to receive this benefit. The amount of the benefit will depend on the non-custodial parent's lifetime average earnings.

  • Contact Social Security about the one-time death benefit. Children of a deceased non-custodial parent are also eligible for a one-time payment of $255, as of January 2011, which can help pay some back child support.


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