Collecting Back Child Support if Parent is Deceased?


December 23, 2019

My son is 9 years old and his real dad just passed away over a week ago. His father owes almost $1000 in back child support still.


What happens with him owing that much and being dead? How can he pay what he owes if he isn't alive anymore?


December 23, 20190 found this helpful
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You need to go through your state child support enforcement for those answers,and maybe since he is a minor he can get social security from his father passing. All of this has to go through your state for answers!

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December 23, 20190 found this helpful
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There could be several things working but only you know all the facts.
I would suggest you go to the Social Security Office as soon as possible to see if your son can qualify for deceased parent benefits. If his father worked and has SS work credits then he may be able to receive benefits until he finishes high school. You can also discuss the back support owed but getting benefits is much more important than receiving the back support payments.

You will need SS number for yourself, your son and his deceased father. You will also need a copy of the degree showing how much child support was supposed to be paid.

You should make an appointment over the telephone with SS as this will be the beginning date of your claim. This is important so make an appointment instead of just walking in and waiting. The appointment date is on record and becomes your official filing date. This will be the date your benefits start if the claim is approved and you will get a check for benefits from that date even if it is not approved for several months.

You may need to get an attorney to help you place a claim for back support but that should be secondary to filing for benefits with SS.

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December 24, 20190 found this helpful
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Please give your son my deepest sympathy on the loss of his birth father. That is so sad for him, especially this time of year.

If there was a court order for the support based on the custody situation, there was most likely a lawyer and/or judge involved in setting up the terms and enforcing them.

If it was me, I would go back to that lawyer (or judge) and ask them for guidance on what your son is or is not entitled to because of this life changing event.

States differ on how they approach these situations and every situation is different.

They will tell you if you need to contact the Social Security Administration for survivor benefits (which would be in addition to the back child support) and/or if the money needs to come from the estate if he had any resources. If his dad was a veteran, there may be other programs he could be eligible for as well as if the father was employed and there was a company insurance policy on him, if your son was a beneficiary he would be getting that money.

Too many variables for a "layperson" to guess to see the lawyer and get things started.

Post back with an update! Prayers for all!

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19 More Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

January 27, 2020

Almost 8 years ago, I was given full custody of 2 young girls. I received child support for the first 2 years from 1 of the parents, but not the other (the bio parents were divorced and ordered to pay separate child support amounts). The girls' dad just passed this last September and I was able to apply for survivor benefits for 1 of the girls, the other is now 19 and does not qualify.

What about the 5 and a half years I received nothing to help raise someone else's children? The girls' half brother, who had been molesting them (which is why I got custody of them) was named beneficiary on the father's life insurance policy and received that money. Now there are 2 homes being sold. I'm not expecting anything I am not entitled to, but shouldn't I at least be compensated for the years I raised these girls without financial support from either of there bio parents?

These past 8 years have been very hard emotionally. One of the girls has a rare bone disease and has had to undergo numerous surgeries, 9 to be exact and multiple doctors appointments. Without sounding greedy (I hope), am I not at least entitled to the child support I should have gotten and the debt I've now been put into to try and help this child live a somewhat normal life?

Please, Im not looking for negative responses, so if that's all you've got, please keep them to yourself, you have no idea of what I've gone through these past 8 years trying to heal the abuse these girls had suffered.


January 27, 20200 found this helpful
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You should seek council from a lawyer. You may be able to sue for the money from the sales of the home. This is hard to say and only a lawyer will be able to file the paperwork for you and give you the correct advise that you need to be paid back for the money you've spent over the years.

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January 27, 20200 found this helpful
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Though I'm not a lawyer I think you have grounds to receive benefits from the estate due to costs incurred in the upkeep of these poor children, especially considering the special medical costs.

As far as it being a moral issue, sure. You are entitled to feel entitled to receive some compensation for raising neglected children who are not yours. The important thing is that a judge or lawyer feels that way too so that you may receive compensation.

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January 27, 20200 found this helpful
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I do not believe anyone on this site would think you deserved any negative responses.
Your case is too complicated for anyone on this site to offer any suggestions other than to state that you will have to have legal help to receive any money for the time you did receive support.
You should seek legal aid as soon as possible so the attorney can put in a claim against any money received from the sale of the houses or any other areas where there may be money in the father's estates.

If you cannot afford an attorney then you should contact the Family Services/Legal Aid office in your city. They will help you get free or low cost legal services.
This should be done quickly because once the money is allotted you may not be able to place a claim.
Do not worry about what paperwork you need as the attorney will explain what they have to have for your case.

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December 1, 2019

The father was paying the mother arrears in child support. He had been on SSDI and his SSDI check was garnished to pay the arrears of $527 per month. The child is in college. So far the father owes around 7500.00 in arrears.

He recently passed away. What happens to the arrears now? Will the SSDI still pay the arrears till they are paid in full? Or does the father's passing dissolve the arrears?


December 1, 20190 found this helpful
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I'm not sure if this would apply to you or not. A friend of mine her husband did not pay her child support after the divorce. However, when he did die she was able to collect his social security benefits which did make up for all the child support that was not paid. Maybe you should check with social security and see if this applies to you or not.

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December 1, 20190 found this helpful
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I believe the father's passing will dissolve the arrears but you will have to go to the Social Security office to find out for sure.
Some things can be different in different states but SS rules should be the same everywhere.
The mother should go to the SS office as soon as possible to be sure she knows where she stands with this as some 'rules' have time limitations on filing.
I believe the mother will receive a letter from the SS office stating the payment will be discontinued (after they receive the father's death notice)
but it should not keep her from trying to receive payment.
The age of the child has nothing to do with payment of arrears in child support as it is due the guardian who took care of the child (this may change if the child is 38 years old or older).
The SS office has the correct answers.

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August 31, 2011

If my ex-husband died and he still owed a lot of back child support can I still receive support from his social security?

By Elizabeth


September 1, 20113 found this helpful
Best Answer

As already mentioned you need to go to your local Social Security office. Someone will either interview you, first come first serve, then or make an appointment for an interview later to see if you and your children are eligible.

You will be given an application and instructions that will give you a list of all of the documents you will need to copy for them (which will most likely include his death certificate, yours and your childrens birth certificates and social security numbers, proof of your income, any property you own, etc) to submit along with your application. Keep copies of everything you submit and everything you receive from SS in a file folder in case you need it in the future.

If he does die, or already did die, you could go to your local probate court and see if there is any way to petition to collect at least some of the back support via property he may have owned.

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January 8, 2020

Recently the court made an order for back spousal support to be paid. Payments have been made, but a little more than half is due. My ex recently passed away and his current wife hired a lawyer the next day who sent me a letter stating I was not to talk about this matter to her though she was the one I've been speaking to about it for a year.

It's been my sole income whole I've been in school. Is there anyway that the rest can be paid?


January 8, 20200 found this helpful
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I'm assuming the child is over 18 and has finished high school but if that is not the case then you need to go to Social Security ASAP and apply for benefits from his father's earnings. You can also discuss the back child support with them.
It may be possible for you to receive this arrears from his Social Security earnings but you will most likely need an attorney to help you with this.
There may be money in his estate that an attorney could file a claim.

You can go to Family Services and ask about help with finding an attorney that can do this for you. Some help may be free but sometimes there is a fee for these services.
You should get all of your legal paperwork together and do this as soon as possible because her attorney will be working to see that you do not get this money.
You will need any legal papers showing where he is legally obligated to pay support and information on what he has paid and what he still owes. Go for help even if you do not have all the legal papers.

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January 10, 20200 found this helpful
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I think that if your ex-husband had been working there should be some SSI that you should be able to get for your child. You may never get all the back child support. You should really contact a lawyer about all of this. You can try and make an apointment with Social Security and see if your child is eligible for the benefits. If this is the case they will receive the benefits until they are 18.

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My daughter's father is just passed owing her 19, 000 in back child support. What can I do? He owes 19,000 in arrears. He was married with 2 other children that he took care of. I was wondering what I can do to collect the owed arrears. I have applied for Survivor benefits. But that measly 1,400 has to be split 4 ways. Is there any way to make her's more since he owes so much?

Thanks in advance,


October 25, 20171 found this helpful
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This is a hard situation:

Normally survivor benefits are based on your his work history and how much he has made.

This will also depend on if he has other children or not and if they are eligible for part of his survivor benefits.

If he was married again and has left any legal documents for his affairs you might be entitled to some of this.

You would have to file a claim against his property and let a judge decide if you can receive any part of the property or not.
Basically, all you can do is contact an attorney or seek help from Legal Aid.

I feel for you and the pain you are feeling now. My daughter's father never once paid child support and he owed me for 17 years. I wish you luck and hope you can recover a small sum of money to help your daughter.

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February 25, 2019

My son is now 24 years old and his father owes arrears on child support payments. His father just passed away a few days ago and hasn't paid child support over the past several months. Now that he has passed away is there any way for me to collect past due payments and/or arrears payments?


February 25, 20190 found this helpful
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You will need a lawyer to help you sort this out or in some places, the judge who set the child support decree can assist.

If the lawyer/judge are not still around, you can see if your state senator can help you find a good legal aide representative to assist. I found mine by putting in my city name and the phrase "state senator".

I hope you are able to collect, but since the laws can be different in different places, a lay person like me, and most everyone else on this site, won't be able to give you any info of value.

Post back what you learn. Prayers!

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July 14, 2019

I am 26 years old. My mother has stage 4 terminal cancer. My father owes over 18k in back child support. He currently pays monthly, but in the event that something happens to my mom, is there anything I can do so he does not get away scot-free with this child support?

Can I take it over? What are my options?


July 14, 20190 found this helpful
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Very sorry to hear of your mother's illness.
It is sad but back support money is owed to the parent, not to the children.
Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances so I would suggest you talk with an attorney that specializes in family law.

When making an appointment be sure the first consultation is free.

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January 8, 2018

My daughter is 19, almost 20. Her dad died a few days ago. We are wondering if his back child support can be paid out of any Social Security he may have paid in over the years?

My daughter is his only child and he was never married. Doesn't his Social Security go to her?


January 8, 20180 found this helpful
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Survivor's benefits usually stop when the child is 18. It can be extended to 19, if she is still in high school. You would have to make an appointment with Social Security.

If your daughter is owed back child support, it could be taken out of his estate. If you can't afford a lawyer, contact the Legal Aid Society.

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My ex-husband died owing $90,000 in back child support for my daughter. He remarried and has two children under the age of 18. He was on Social Security Disability when he died.

My daughter is now 27 years old. I wanted to know if she could receive his Social Security benefits.

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April 29, 2018

I have a few questions. Can an adult child (30 years old) claim back pay from a deceased father? The deceased father was on SSI for many years before passing so will SSI cover cremation expense?

And finally, can any of this happen if the deceased father passed away on Feb 4th 2018 and adult child just found out April 27th 2018?


May 4, 20180 found this helpful

Questions regarding Social Security in any form should always be presented to the SSA so that you know you have the correct answers.

  • I do not know if there is a time limit on claiming the $255 burial expense but I do not believe you would qualify to receive it.
  • There are two reasons you may not qualify for this benefit.
  • 1). Your father was on SSI which means he did not have sufficient payroll quarters to qualify for regular SS benefits so I do not believe the burial benefit would be paid.
  • 2). From SS web site: Lump Sum Social Security Death Benefit
  • A spouse (who is living in the same household) can receive a one-time lump sum benefit of $255. If there is no spouse, a dependent child generally age 18 or under (see exceptions to the age 18 rule on the minor child section of Social Security's website), is then eligible for a one-time lump sum death benefit.
  • I do not know exactly what you mean by "back pay" but I would guess you mean back/arrears support payments.
  • There would not be a benefit for this as he was on SSI and SS would not have given a benefit to an eligible child (under 18-19) since that is a government benefit that is not based on wages.
  • Here are a couple of links that explain SS and SSI benefits.

You should make an appointment at your SSA and ask your questions so you will know for sure where you stand on both of these questions.

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August 2, 2019

My ex-husband, who never paid any child support to our daughter since birth, recently passed. He was an established dentist in California. His estate is now in probate. Our daughter is also not declared in the divorce decree, as he kept the whole thing hidden from his surviving spouse.

I would like to know if I can collect for back child support, and how do I go about it?

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If a father never paid a dime throughout his whole life, and is deceased, can a child still claim owed back support? Just the question says it all. I want to know if I can do something about that.

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June 26, 2018

My father died a few days ago and he had lots of money owed for child support. Is there any way I will see this money in the future? What steps do I take? I'm 20 now.


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