Support Obligations and Death
Many spouses earn vastly different incomes, and, if a couple with disparate assets decides to divorce, the court may order the higher-earning spouse to pay spousal maintenance. Similarly, co-parents often have diverse means, and it is not uncommon for the courts to impose child-support obligations on one parent. Typically, support and maintenance orders dictate the duration of the responsibility to make payments, but the death of a party bound by an order could potentially impact the obligation prior to the court-ordered expiration. If you have concerns about how a recent death could affect your rights or obligations in a family-law case, it is advisable to contact an attorney promptly. The knowledgeable Dallas family-law attorneys of McClure Law Group are dedicated to helping people take the measures necessary to protect their interests, and, if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf.Child-Support Obligations and Death Under Texas Law
The Texas Family Code (the “Code”) expressly dictates that child-support obligations continue after the obligor's death. Specifically, the Code provides that if a party required to pay child support passes away before the support obligation ends, the outstanding unpaid balance of the obligation becomes payable on the date of their death. The court that has jurisdiction over the case will determine the amount of support owed to each child of the deceased obligor, weighing all relevant factors, including the current value of the total amount of monthly child-support payments that would be due between the time of death and the child’s 18th birthday, the value of any health-insurance premiums payable for the child’s benefit during that time, and the type and amount of any benefits the child would be owed as a result of the obligor’s death. If, after evaluating any pertinent factors, the court finds the child-support obligation has been satisfied, it will terminate the obligation; if it determines, however, that the obligation has not been met, it will issue a judgment in favor of the obligee in the amount of the unpaid child-support obligation. The obligee must then pursue a claim against the obligor’s estate for the outstanding child support.
Similarly, the Code states that child-support duties do not end with the death of the obligee or parent receiving the support but continue as an obligation to the child named in the support order. The support will be paid to the child’s guardian, the person appointed managing conservator of the child or who has assumed actual care and possession of the child, the county clerk in the child’s name, or the child. Notably, if the child named in a support order passes away, the support obligation terminates immediately.Texas Law Regarding Spousal Maintenance and Death
Unlike child support obligations, spousal maintenance will not survive a party’s death. In other words, if either the party paying or the party receiving support passes away, any court-ordered duty to pay maintenance will end. In cases in which the parties entered into a contractual agreement regarding post-divorce spousal support, however, the Texas courts have ruled that the terms of the agreement will dictate whether the support obligation continues after the death of one of the parties. As such, death does not automatically terminate a support obligation.Contact a Capable Dallas Attorney
The death of a co-parent or former spouse can impact a person’s rights with regard to child support and spousal maintenance, and it is smart for anyone contending with the passing of a person subject to a family-law order to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The capable Dallas lawyers of McClure Law Group can evaluate the facts of your case and advise you of your options for seeking a favorable outcome. We represent parties in family-law matters in Dallas, Rockwall, Fort Worth, Richardson, Frisco, Irving, McKinney, and Garland. We also represent people in divorce and child support actions in cities in Dallas, Denton, Rockwall, Collin, Tarrant, and Grayson Counties. You can contact us through our online form or by calling 214.692.8200 to set up a confidential meeting.