Three Divisions. One Firm.
Countless lives changed.
child support after death

Child Support After Death in Texas

Does child support continue if my ex-spouse dies in Texas?

The death of an ex-spouse who paid child support could devastate a child and the parent receiving support in Texas.

Before Texas changed its laws in 2007, it was even worse. Before the change, child support payments ended with the payee’s death, often leaving the children and the other parent in financial turmoil. Now, outstanding child support must be paid despite a death. Consult with an experienced Fort Worth child support attorney as soon as possible if you’re facing such a situation.

In child support parlance, the paying parent is called the obligor, and the parent receiving the payment is the obligee. The obligor is also known as the non-custodial parent. Typically, the court calculates how much outstanding child support remains and requires the amount be paid in a lump sum from the deceased parent’s estate.

Are you going through a divorce or dealing with child support issues in Tarrant County?

The Varghese Summersett Family Law Group has more than three decades of combined experience handling the intricacies of child support, property division, and divorce. Call us to set up a consultation with a top Fort Worth child support attorney.

In this post, we’ll explain what happens when the child support provider dies, how the court determines what is owed, and the importance of estate planning.

What happens to child support if my ex-spouse dies in Texas?

Texas law requires that child support continues through the obligated term even if the person paying dies. It doesn’t matter if the Final Divorce Decree expressly covers this event. Texas Family Code provides this protection for the spouse entitled to receive those payments on behalf of the child. Your Fort Worth child support attorney will review the circumstances of your case before advising on the best way to proceed.

Texas Family Code 154.015 states that a lump sum is required equaling “the total amount of monthly periodic child support payments that would become due between the month in which the obligor dies and the month in which the child turns 18 years of age, based on the amount of the periodic monthly child support payments under the child support order in effect on the date of the obligor’s death.”

Until 2007, child support payments ended if the payee died, even if the child was still a minor.

How is child support paid after the death of the payee?

If the obligor (the payee) dies, the amount of child support to be paid over the remainder of the child’s minority is accelerated.

The estate must pay a liquidated amount on behalf of the child. A skilled Fort Worth child support attorney will make sure the state stays on top of your case to prevent undue stress on the child.

How do you claim child support if your ex-spouse dies in Texas?

If a child support obligor dies, the obligee must file suit in family court to reduce the child support arrearages or future child support obligations to a money judgment before the probate court, which has jurisdiction to enforce the payment. Once the judgment has been rendered by the family court with continuing, exclusive jurisdiction, the judgment may be presented as a claim against the decedent’s estate. The amount determined by the family court is a claim against the decedent’s estate to be presented to the personal representative under the claims procedures provided by the Texas Probate Code.

In the event of the child support obligor’s death, how is a lump sum paid?

The lump sum future child support obligations from an estate is a Class 4 Claim under Texas Probate Code. It gives child support payments priority over all debts besides funeral expenses, administrative expenses, secured claims, and any expenses related to the deceased’s last illness, with a maximum of $15,000.

Is life insurance required for child support obligors in Texas?

Texas Family Code § 154.016 was added in 2007 to include that the court can order a child support obligor to obtain and maintain a life insurance policy during a divorce to establish an insurance-funded trust or an annuity.

In the event of the obligor’s death, this insurance policy would be payable to the obligee for the benefit of the child that will satisfy the obligor’s child support obligation. The obligee would act as the trustee of the insurance policy.

How does Texas determine child support owed in the event of a death?

If the party representing the child and the obligor’s estate cannot agree on the amount of child support, the judge will consider multiple factors to determine an amount. A Fort Worth child support attorney will consult with their client on an acceptable amount.

  1. The court considers all relevant factors, including:
  2. The value of the total amount of monthly periodic child support payments that would become due between the month the obligor dies and the month the child turns 18, based on the amount of child support payments under the order in effect on the date of the obligor’s death
  3. The value of the total amount of health insurance and dental insurance premiums payable for the benefit of the child from the month the obligor dies until the month the child turns 18, based on the cost of health and dental insurance for the child ordered to be paid on the date of the obligor’s death
  4. The court-determined amount for a disabled child under 18 or an adult disabled child under Family Code 154.306
  5. The amount of any benefits to which the child would be entitled as a result of the obligor’s death, including life insurance proceeds, annuity payments, trust distributions, social security death benefits, and retirement survivor benefits
  6. All other financial resources available for the support of the child

What happens if the child support obligor dies during divorce in Texas?

If a child support obligor dies during the divorce proceedings, the case of child support could be transferred to a probate court to determine any issues dividing the marital property. Why?

Texas Probate Code gives the probate court jurisdiction to hear any matters that relate to the administration of property belonging to the estate of a deceased person.

Thus, a divorce would qualify as an issue related to dividing up and splitting property connected to the dead spouse, making the probate court the most appropriate home for the case.

An experienced Fort Worth child support attorney will keep you apprised of the details of probate court.

How does Texas decide on child support from an estate?

Texas law provides that future child support obligations may be discounted for present payment and may be offset by other benefits payable to the child upon the obligor’s death.

Divorce courts often require child support obligations to be secured by a life insurance policy on the life of the obligor, which protects the child financially in case an obligor parent dies insolvent.

Why is child support obligation in Texas estate planning important?

  1. Continued Support for Dependents: The primary reason to include child support in estate planning is to ensure that minors or dependents continue to receive financial support even after the death of the parent. By setting up arrangements through the estate, you can provide a continuous flow of resources that help cover everyday expenses, education, healthcare, and other needs of the children.
  2. Legal Requirements: In Texas, child support obligations do not automatically end upon the death of the obligor (the person required to pay child support). The remaining unpaid child support becomes a claim against the obligor’s estate. Therefore, planning for these expenses in one’s estate is legally necessary to avoid complications or legal challenges that might disrupt the well-being of the children involved.
  3. Financial Planning and Asset Distribution: Proper estate planning allows for the careful distribution of assets, ensuring that funds are allocated specifically to fulfill ongoing child support commitments. This is particularly important to prevent significant parts of the estate from being tied up in probate or legal disputes, which can be time-consuming and costly.
  4. Life Insurance Policies: Many estate plans include life insurance policies specifically designed to cover ongoing child support obligations. This ensures that funds are immediately available to the children without the need to liquidate other estate assets.
  5. Peace of Mind: Knowing that children will be financially secure in the event of a parent’s death provides peace of mind to the parent. It eliminates uncertainties about the future care and lifestyle of the children.
  6. Tax Considerations: Proper estate planning, including provisions for child support, can also be structured to optimize tax obligations. This can maximize the benefits received by children and minimize the tax impact on the estate.

Need a Fort Worth Child Support Attorney? Call us.

Are you concerned about the status of your child support payments? Protect the welfare of your children in the wake of your ex-spouse’s death. Contact the Family Law Group at Varghese Summersett by calling 817-900-3220.

Related Articles
Close Icon