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What Happens to Child Support After a Parent Dies?


Losing a parent is a devastating and life-changing event in the life of a child. When a parent dies, it’s vital that the child’s extended family rallies to support the child and their surviving parent. If the child’s parents were divorced, however, it can be confusing to know how financial support will proceed after a parent’s death.

Child Support Orders Continue After Death

Unlike spousal support, child support orders continue to be enforceable even after death. Even if a parent with court-ordered child support obligations explicitly disinherits that child through their will, Massachusetts courts have ruled that a parent cannot nullify their legal child support obligations through disinheritance. The estate of the deceased parent must fulfill that obligation until the child reaches their majority.

Sources of Support After a Parent’s Death

There are several ways to secure financial support following a parent’s death. Some parents choose to secure or increase their life insurance policy to secure their support obligations in case of their death. Doing so can even be built in as a stipulation in your separation agreement.

If life insurance is insufficient or unavailable, the deceased parent’s child support obligations can be pulled from their estate. The surviving parent or the child’s representative can make a claim against the estate through probate. If the deceased parent’s probated estate is not sufficient to meet their legal obligation to their child, it is possible that the deceased parent’s non-probated assets can also be used to fulfill any child support owed.

Finally, a surviving child should be eligible to receive 75% of the deceased parent’s Social Security benefits until their majority or until they graduate from high school. This will not fulfill child support obligations, but it can be considered another possible source of support for the child.

How Percy Law Group Can Help

If your child has lost their other parent or you would like to plan ahead to protect your child should the worst happen, our knowledgeable attorneys at Percy Law Group can help you make a plan. With a wealth of experience in probate, estate planning, and family law, our lawyers know how to navigate these complex areas of law so that you can take the steps necessary to ensure that your child is provided for and protected.

Contact us online or call us at (508) 206-9900 to schedule a consultation.