At the end of a marriage or relationship where the parties share a child or children, the court will almost always make an order for child support. In most cases, the parent who has less parenting time is the parent who will need to pay child support. The obligation to pay support typically lasts until a child is eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever comes later, but it can last longer. When the paying parent dies before the child reaches that age, however, the issue of financially supporting the child can become difficult and complicated for the surviving parent.
In most cases, both parents, but especially the parent paying child support, are required to carry life insurance for the benefit of the child in order to provide for just this situation. Life insurance proceeds pass outside of probate and will be paid directly to the person named as beneficiary on the policy. If the other parent is named as the beneficiary, this can greatly expedite the process of the surviving parent receiving financial support.
Another financial option for the surviving parent is Social Security. If the deceased parent worked for a certain amount of time, then the child may be eligible to receive survivor’s benefits through Social Security. The surviving parent will need to complete the application on the child’s behalf. A child can receive up to 75% of the deceased parent’s retirement benefits. The child can continue to receive these benefits up to the age of 18 or beyond, if the child is a student or is disabled.
Finally, Minnesota statute specifically provides that the death of a parent does not automatically and immediately terminate the child support obligation of the deceased parent, unless it was specifically agreed in writing before the parent’s death. When the paying parent dies, the court has several choices. The amount of support may be modified or terminated. More likely is that the court may order payment in a lump sum. These funds will come from the deceased parent’s estate. The estate may be comprised of assets ranging from checking accounts to real estate to retirement accounts. The court wants to make sure that a child is supported even if the paying parent has passed away.
Contact us today at (320) 299-4249. We can talk to you about your child support following the death of the other parent.