What happens to your child support if something happens to your child’s father?

Posted on Mar 3, 2014 by Katie Carter

Your child’s father will have a child support obligation to your children until your child turns 19 or graduates high school, whichever occurs first. If your children are young, that’s a long time. Even when you and your husband were together, you probably worried about how you’d afford to give your children everything you always wanted to give them. The older they get, the more the demands on your pocketbook grow. They need new clothes, the latest shoes, doctors appointments, medicines, sports equipment, and school supplies, and one day they’ll start asking for cars, prom dresses, and college educations. It’s enough to make anybody’s head swim.

If you’re dependent on your child’s father for child support, you have probably wondered, “What happens if something happens to him?” Obviously, the child support would stop. How could you make it work then? It’s a scary thought.

Life insurance is one of the things that we can negotiate in divorce to help alleviate the stress in exactly this kind of situation. At least while your child’s father has a child support obligation, we can ask that he maintain a life insurance policy on himself, naming the children as beneficiary but you as a trustee until the children reach a certain age. Usually, we also ask he provide proof of insurance to you annually.
Of course, certain factors (like his age, weight, and personal habits, like smoking) can affect his ability to apply for and get life insurance, if he doesn’t have it already. If you’re negotiating a separation agreement, his attorney won’t let him sign an agreement that forces him to pay an outlandish amount of money per month to maintain a life insurance policy, and if you’re litigating your case in court, it’s possible that the judge wouldn’t order it unless the fee is reasonable.

Keep in mind, too, that if you’re asking him to maintain a life insurance policy, he will probably ask the same of you. Be prepared for this ahead of time. Assuming that you’re healthy, don’t smoke, and don’t have a pre-existing condition, life insurance typically costs far less for women than for men. Besides, it should give you extra peace of mind, knowing that your children are doubly protected, should something happen to either of you.

I’m definitely not any kind of expert on life insurance, so if you’re interested in researching the possible costs of maintaining a policy, you should talk to someone. Chances are, you either already have some kind of life insurance, or your work has someone with whom you can be put you in contact relatively quickly. You’ll probably be able to secure some kind of term life policy relatively inexpensively.
This is usually a fairly straightforward provision to negotiate. Most parents recognize the necessity of providing for their minor children in the event of their death, whether or not they have a formal child support obligation. It’s not money that he pays out of pocket to you, so it’s a little easier to swallow than a lot of other things.

Keep this in mind as you negotiate child support during your divorce. It’s a cheap, easy way to give yourself peace of mind knowing that, whatever happens, your children will be provided for.