How to Collect Back Child Support When a Parent Dies

The loss of a parent is heartbreaking and traumatic for any child, whether the deceased was the custodial or non-custodial parent in a divorce. If the parent who died was paying child support for this youngster, this can also be problematic. Yet there are measures that can be taken to ensure continuing child support as well as full payment of any back-dated child support that was due on the date of death of the non-custodial parent.

Life Insurance Policies From Deceased Parent's Estate

Check with the deceased parent's estate to determine the existence of life insurance policies. Often, a non-custodial parent must purchase a life insurance policy designating the child as the beneficiary. This requirement takes effect when a child support agreement is instated.

This life insurance policy is required for the purpose of ensuring that the child is provided for if the non-custodial parent should die. The subsequent payout amount on this policy should be adequate to cover any future owed payments of child support.

Read More​: Life Insurance Basics

Claim Against Estate for Back Child Support

You can request that a claim be made against the estate of the deceased non-custodial parent by the state caseworker for the payment of back-dated child support. This unpaid amount is considered to be an outstanding debt of the now-deceased parent.

This amount must be paid by the estate prior to any bequeathing activity. To initiate this request, a claim must be placed against the estate. In Texas and some other states, this claim is placed automatically as part of the state legal code.

Social Security Administration Survivor Benefits

You should also contact the Social Security Administration concerning survivor benefits. Prior to the death of a non-custodial parent, if this parent worked for a sufficient length of time, children who are less than ​18 years​ of age and not married can be issued SSA survivor benefits.

According to Social Security officials, the solid majority of U.S. workers' children qualify to receive this benefit. The lifetime average earnings of the non-custodial parent will determine the amount of this benefit payment.

Read More​: Social Security Basics

SSA One-Time Death Benefit After Death of Non-Custodial Parent

You can also contact the Social Security Administration for information about the one-time death benefit. Following the death of non-custodial parents, children are entitled to a one-time benefit payment equaling ​$255. This benefit was instated in January of ​2011​ to help in paying a portion of back child support.

Collect Child Support Arrears as an Adult

Child support is designed to provide financial support for a child's basic necessities like food, shelter and clothing. This monthly monetary payment that a custodial parent receives from a non-custodial parent is court-ordered. These mandatory payments continue until the child is ​18​ or even longer if the child is in post-secondary education or is disabled, depending on the child and custodial parent's state of residence.

In some states, if a non-custodial parent defaults on child support payments, the child can bring a lawsuit against this parent for payment of the outstanding balance after the child reaches adulthood.

Advice About Collecting Back-Dated Child Support

Most states in the U.S. require you to complete an application that permits child support services to start collection proceedings for back-dated child support. Child services agencies frequently obtain a court judgment for garnishing a percentage of a non-custodial parent's wages and tax returns to recover back-dated child support payments.

This judgment stays in effect until the entire amount outstanding is paid. Either the child as an adult or the custodial parent can begin these collection proceedings. If the custodial parent is now deceased, the child as a grownup may be permitted to start collection proceedings on behalf of the deceased parent's estate.

However, in most U.S. states, a lawsuit for the collection of back child support from the non-custodial parent can only be initiated by the custodial parent.