Are child support arrears dismissed when the spouse dies?

divorce attorney Jill DuffyQuestion:

My ex-wife died and I owe back child support, though our children are now adults.

Do I still need to pay these arrears? Should I notify the court?


You should provide the court with a copy of your former spouse’s death certificate. The court and child support office should be notified when there are any significant changes in the lives of either party.

Your child support obligation does not end just because your children’s mother is no longer living. Your child support obligation lasts until your children become adults (or any other circumstances provided for by your state’s statutes).

The amount you owe in arrears will likely be included in part of your former spouse’s estate and should be submitted to the probate court. Arrears do not get waived when the payee becomes deceased.

Do not rely on this information as establishing an attorney-client relationship. Contact an attorney immediately for assistance.

Cordell & Cordell represents men in divorce nationwide.


Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

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5 comments on “Are child support arrears dismissed when the spouse dies?

    My ex Filed for divorce in 97. Residence and support were ordered in 2000 leaving me 3 years in arrears the very day support was ordered. At that time I had no income, and was fighting for SSI which continued through about 2004. Florida set a rate based not on what I was capable of earning because they had no actual income to go by but based on his and my ability to earn and they prorated the difference. I always thought this was unfair because he had a high school diploma and he worked the construction field and my education ended at the 8th grade and I had no skills but that of a housewife. At any rate, support was ordered until the kids graduated highschool turned 19 or were emancipated by marriage etc. In 2005 my oldest boy moved out to live with his grandmother. My ex never reported that. In 2006 my youngest came to live with me in NY but my ex never reported that either. I tried to but when I would call Florida they would tell me NY needed to adjust the support and NY would tell me they couldn’t because Florida retained jurisdiction.In 2010 my oldest boy turned 18 got married went into the military but his father never reported that. Support at the same rate continued to accrue until my youngest turned 21 at the same rate even though neither child lived with him from 2006 until 2015. Even then my ex never filed to stop support. As a matter of fact he stopped corresponding with Florida at all after 2006. He never went after me for arrears he never stopped support and then he died in 2014. My sons are the only children. He had no property, no bank accounts, no insurance policies, he died intestate and in debt. My support finally stopped (I Think) 3 or 4 months after he died and only because my youngest child was 21. Im not even sure really because as the payer you don’t get talked to by caseworkers. You don’t get notices other than those taking you to court for something. They will not talk to you about your own child support case at all. Nobody has claimed his estate because neither of my children want his debts nor do that want the support that accrued for years that he wasn’t entitled to in the first place. I will die never being able to leave life insurance for my children or burial benefits because I can’t get those kinds of policies because I have massive arrears. They won’t get my house car or bank account because even though they are over 21 and having families of their own i’m locked in a limbo that even if it were to end today would never be able to be caught back up to leave my kids anything. I have yet to find a way out from under and I even believe my ex may have been fraudulently collecting welfare while he did not have the kids. But I guess I will never know for sure.

    Ex wife passed away. Father has the two girls. The state took taxes for pass due child support. Who gets this money?

    My children’s mother was killed recently. I am not married to her but hired an attorney on my children’s behalf. Their mother and I have been separated for over a year and a half. She owes me almost $15,000 in arrears. will the arrears be paid to me from her estate, if any monies is collected in the case. Is there any steps that I must take to ensure payment? I have had custody of both children since we separated.

    My ex husband owes me arears in child support…child support says it will come out of his estate.. But the woman that lived with him cashed a ck of his after he died. And tok all funds from bank. It is in trail…want to kn how to go about getting my arears or will it come to my child support debit card automatically….Thank you…

    My wife died and I owed her child arrears until the kids were 27 CHILDREN are now 33 and 30 and my x wife recently died Feb 2016 . I need to know if my arrears are dismissable now that my kids are married and parents themselves. My x wife now deceased asked my married daughter to.pursue my arrears to her thru her estate managed by my daughter who is rich. Do I have a legal ave to.pursue a final removal of this case

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