Can You Collect Child Support from a Deceased Parent’s Estate in Florida?
Every parent who has worked through the process of a divorce knows that even if a romantic relationship comes to an end; you never stop being a parent. The state of Florida has developed the law to help ensure that children of divorce receive the support they need from their parents. Accordingly, parents in Florida generally have a legal responsibility to provide a level of financial support to their children.
In a divorce, the “custodial” parent, the parent that has physical custody a greater amount of time, will usually receive child support from the non-custodial parent. These payment amounts are based on several factors, and the length of time that support is required is usually when the child turns 18 or is emancipated by the court.
But what happens when a parent who has been paying child support? Can the custodial parent collect child support payments from the estate, or sue the estate to gain access to funds that the parent, theoretically, would have been on the hook to pay if they had lived longer?
Does Death Affect Child Support Payment Requirements?
While some states require that child support payments continue on, even after a parent’s death, Florida law has not adopted this concept. If a parent is required to pay child support but then dies, that person’s estate is not required to pay future child support payments.
Interestingly, the deceased’s estate IS required to pay any arrears or back taxes. This is a debt that the Estate is required to resolve in the course of probate. However, anyone seeking to collect these funds from the estate should understand that this debt will not have first precedence when paying off estate debts.
Debt Payment Precedence
Florida Statute §733.707 details the order in which an estate’s personal representative must pay off an estate’s debts and expenses:
- Administrative costs and estate expenses, including attorneys’ fees and court costs
- Reasonable funeral expenses
- Debts and/or debts that have preference under federal law
- Necessary and reasonable medical bills that the deceased incurred during the last 60 days of the person’s last illness
- Family allowance
- Child support debt
- Debts acquired after death in continuation of the person’s business
- All other valid debts
Clearly, paying back child support is not the first thing on an estate’s list of things to pay. However, depending on the size of the decedent’s estate, it is entirely possible that a custodial parent might receive some or all back-owed child support from a deceased parent’s estate.
Time is of the Essence – Contact Suncoast Civil Law
While it is possible for custodial parents to receive some amount of money to pay back child support payment arrears, it is important that you act quickly. There are deadlines for filing these kinds of claims, and there are also other rules and policies that may impact the payment of back child support. The experienced Sarasota probate litigation lawyers at Suncoast Civil Law are familiar with all of the intricacies of the law. Contact our dedicated team of attorneys to begin speaking with an expert on the details of your case.
Child Support Guidelines Worksheet – Florida Courts (flcourts.gov)