If your ex has recently passed away, do not panic. The spousal support and child support arrangements that were in place can still continue. These payments do not have to end with the end of your ex’s physical life. Spousal support is designed to continue for as long as it takes a divorced spouse to adapt to the divorce and become self-sufficient. In many instances, courts do not specify the length of this period, and spousal support payments can continue until the person receiving payment dies or remarries. If the paying spouse dies before either condition occurs, the court can order payment to continue through the paying spouse’s estate. This estate may contain money that can be used to directly pay or assets may be liquidated in order to gain the necessary funds. It basically comes down to the language contained in the court order regarding support. The parties are free to agree to terminate support upon the death of the payor, but absent such an agreement (which is often “snuck” into the divorce agreement by the paying spouse’s attorney) the language of the court order might be either ambiguous enough to allow for an argument that the payments should continue after death, or maybe the order will simply say that outright.
Child support may also continue following the death of one parent. Courts believe that this is necessary in order to protect children of divorce from suddenly falling into poverty if one parent dies. In this case, child support payments could be made through the payor’s life insurance policy (if one is present) or from the assets of the payor’s estate. Parents who pay child support sometimes have life insurance, either through their own initiative or because of a court order.
So don’t worry. If your spouse passes away while paying alimony and child support, the payments may still continue. Be sure to consult a legal professional for help in the wake of your ex’s death. The right counsel can make all the difference in your ability to continue receiving payment.