As the parent receiving child support, your monthly budget probably depends on your ex contributing their fair share. Taking care of kids is expensive, especially when you don’t have a spouse to help absorb some of those costs.
Generally speaking, in Texas, child support continues for as long as a child is a minor or while they remain enrolled in high school. If your ex suddenly stops paying, the state can take enforcement actions to compel them to support their children.
What happens if they suddenly die? Obviously, most people won’t earn any more income after their deaths. Are you truly on your own when the parent paying child support dies while your children are still minors?
Child support obligations don’t end when someone dies
A parent’s obligation to their children doesn’t magically disappear just because their life ends. Your ex still has a duty to provide for the children you share with them even after their death. There are many ways for a deceased parent to fulfill their obligations to their children.
Your children may be beneficiaries of a life insurance policy. It could also be possible for a claim against the estate to cover the child support expenses your ex would have paid if they had lived.
The children might also qualify for workers’ compensation survival benefits if the death was job-related. It’s also possible that you could pursue a wrongful death claim if someone else caused your family’s loss. Finally, Social Security benefits may be available to surviving minor children after the death of their parents.
What would a claim against an estate look like?
Laws on child support in Texas specifically address the issue of a parent dying while children are still dependent on support. It is common practice to appoint someone to negotiate on behalf of the children with a representative of the estate.
In theory, the children should be able to claim the entire amount of support that their parents would have paid from the estate. Often, the resources available in an estate will fall short of that amount, necessitating negotiations.
However, it’s important to understand that your children should take priority over other family members like parents of your ex or their siblings because they are financially dependent on their deceased parent. Asking for support when you will have sole responsibility for providing care for your children is reasonable even if the family of your ex isn’t happy with your request.