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Thursday, August 5, 2010

If a person paying child support dies, does his estate have to pay the support?

Child support is usually paid monthly over a period of years, until a child reaches a certain age. Sometimes the parent who is paying the support dies before the child has reached that age. Then the question arises as to whether the parent's estate should continue to pay the child support. Whether any money is paid out of the estate for this depends on the facts.
First of all, the arrears of child support are treated differently from the ongoing monthly obligation. If there were arrears owing by the parent at the date of his or her death, that is clearly a debt that will be paid by the estate (assuming there is enough money in the estate).
The question of whether the present and future ongoing child support payments will be paid from the estate depends on whether the parent paying the support expressed any intentions about it. Look first to the Will. Does the parent say anything in the Will about paying child support? Often the paying parent will have a clause in his or her Will that allows the executor to calculate how much the present and future obligations would be, and to pay that in a lump sum amount. By doing that, the child who depends on the payments doesn't get shortchanged, and the estate can still be wound up quickly.
If there is nothing in the Will about child support payments, look at the court order or signed agreement that set up the payments in the first place. Does it say anywhere that the order or agreement would "bind the estate", or bind the payor's "executors, heirs, assigns" etc? If those words, or others very similar in nature, are in the document, then the estate will have to pay the ongoing and future child support. Again, it can be calculated and paid out as a lump sum.
If there is nothing in the Will, and nothing in the agreement or court order, then the estate does not have to pay the ongoing and future child support.
The executor will have to settle this question quite early on in the estate because unpaid child support would have to be listed on the inventory of the estate as a debt.


  1. I am very happy to find the answer I was looking for in regards continue child support after my husband dearth.

  2. Lynne,

    Can we used the life insurance as payment for child support?

    Or Is the estate responsibility to pay for the child support agreed in the separation agreement?

  3. After the father died what I have to do. I go to court or what

    1. Well, okay, starting with zero information here. You said "the father" so I will assume that you are the parent of a child, that you are referring to the father of that child, and that the father owed you child support.

      I don't know if you have to go to court. It will depend on several factors, including:
      - if the father left a will that leaves anything to you or the child to pay that support
      - if there was anything else in place to guarantee the support, like a life insurance policy
      - whether you have an order or agreement in place that says how much he is supposed to pay and whether that order is registered with the provincial maintenance enforcement
      - whether he was paying up to date or whether there are arrears

      Since you don't mention any of those things, perhaps they are not in place, or perhaps this situation is complicated. I would suggest taking any paperwork you have to a family law lawyer. You may not need to go to court.


  4. Hi Lynne,
    I was wondering if my ex husband had 30 yeras of back child support owed to me and he recently passed,would I be entitled to his pension as he is in debt.
    Which is owed to me?
    And would i contact the pension office?

    1. Two different things are happening here and they don't necessarily have anything to do with each other.

      If your ex owed child support, that could come out of his estate. His pension may not go into his estate.

      If he has named a beneficiary on his pension, such as a new wife, then the funds don't go to his estate.

      However a separate issue is that of pension-splitting. You may be entitled to share in his pension for the years you were married. That has nothing to do with child support arrears. Yes, contacting the pension office is a good idea.


  5. My husband died with no will or estate am l held responsible to pay his child support to his 16 year old son


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