No matter the circumstances, having a parent pass away is an emotionally challenging time for the whole family. There are additional challenges for children of divorced or separated parents: what will happen now, where will they live, what else is going to change?
Government-Provided Benefits for Children
The United States Social Security Administration provides survivors benefits to unmarried children under the age of 18 and disabled children who were diagnosed before the age of 22. These benefits are calculated based on what the deceased parent would have received in social security upon retirement.
The State of Florida takes special interest regarding children of divorced and single parents to ensure that their day-to-day life remains as stable as possible during a separation. When a parent has passed away the state has also created guidelines regarding child support and custody to prevent additional stress for children and their family.
How is Child Support Affected?
The death of a parent will automatically end the obligation to pay child support for the deceased parent. If that parent failed to make some or all of their child support payments before they passed away, any past-due child support will be the responsibility of the decedent’s estate.
What Happens When the Custodial Parent Passes Away?
If the parent the child primarily resides with has passed away, placing the child with their living parent is the first choice. When the other parent is not available and there is a will in place clearly identifying a guardian, the State of Florida will try to follow those wishes as closely as possible. If there is no will and the other parent is not eligible to care for the child, the State of Florida will try to identify other relatives or close family friends for the child to live with.
Whether the loss of a parent happened suddenly or was due to a long illness it is still an emotionally charged time for children and their families. Knowing what to expect for your children can provide a sense of comfort and is one less thing to stress about.