My Ex Died Unexpectedly — Will His Estate Be Required to Pay Child Support?
Under Texas law, every parent has a duty to support his or her child while the child is a minor and thereafter until graduation from high school. All of a parent's assets may be considered in setting a child support amount and in collecting past due child support obligations.
Child support obligations do not die
In the past, a parent's child support obligation ended when he or she died, even if the child was still a minor. In 2007, however, Texas law was amended to provide that court-ordered child support obligations survive the obligor's death.
This means if a parent was ordered to pay child support and subsequently dies before the child reaches adulthood, the amount to be paid over the remainder of the child's minority is accelerated and the estate must pay a liquidated amount on behalf of the child. If an agreement between the obligor's estate and a party representing the child can't be reached, a court considers a number of factors to determine how much is owed.
How do courts decide how much is owed by the estate?
Texas law states that a future child support obligation 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 serves to protect the child financially in case an obligor parent dies insolvent. A sufficient life insurance pay-out could negate any additional amount owed by the obligor's estate.
Consider child support obligations when estate planning
Whether you owe child support, the size and types of assets you own, your health and the ages of your children are some of the factors you should consider in developing a comprehensive estate plan. If you have remarried, you should take into account your spouse's age and financial status as well.
Be prepared to make a claim on behalf of your children
If you are the recipient of child support and wondering how to make sure your children are not left out of the estate distribution, contact an experienced probate litigation attorney for assistance in pursuing a claim against the estate on behalf of your children.
At Peterson Law Group, we help clients navigate Texas probate, estate and family law. Make an appointment with one of our experienced Bryan, Texas estate planning lawyers by calling 979-703-7014 or 936-337-4681, or visit us online to arrange a consultation.