In general, parents have a legal obligation to provide financial support for their children. In the context of divorce, separated parents have a duty to pay child support to the other spouse, particularly when the other spouse has custody over their child. A parent’s obligation to pay child support does not terminate when they pass away. Any unpaid support becomes fully payable from their estate upon death.
However, imposing liability for future unpaid child support on a parent’s estate does not guarantee that the child will have adequate financial support in the future. Probate issues can prolong the provision of support from the parent’s estate, or the decedent might not have a sufficiently large estate from which the obligation may be satisfied.
Texas law recognizes the danger of this situation and grants courts the power to order a parent to purchase and maintain a life insurance policy for securing future payments in the event of the parent’s untimely demise.
Ordering Life Insurance Under Texas Family Code § 154.016
Under Texas Family Code § 154.016, courts can order a party “to obtain and maintain a life insurance policy…that will establish an insurance- funded trust or an annuity payable to the obligee for the benefit of the child that will satisfy the support obligation under the child support order in the event of the obligor’s death.”
Additionally, the family code requires a judge to evaluate certain factors when determining whether to order a parent to maintain a life insurance policy to secure child support.
According to Texas Family Code § 154.016, the court must consider “all relevant factors” including, but not limited to:
- The present value of all child support payments at the date that the support obligation was created until the date that the child turns 18
- The present value of all health and dental insurance premiums from the date the support obligation was created until the child turns 18
- The amount of a child support obligation paid for a disabled child under the age of 18 or an adult disabled child (over 18)
A child support obligation for disabled children triggers a different statutory analysis under the Texas Family Code. This is because the needs of disabled children can extend beyond the date they turn 18 if the child’s disability prevents them from independently providing for their own wellbeing.
Under Texas Family Code § 154.306, a court determining the appropriateness of child support payments after a disabled child turns 18 must evaluate the following issues:
- The current and future needs of an adult child in connection with their disability, and the care required to address those needs
- Whether the child’s parents will pay for their care or supervision as an adult or will provide such care and supervision themselves
- The parent’s respective financial conditions and their economic resources
- The availability of other financial resources and the applicability of welfare programs
Need Advice for Child Support Issues? Consult O’Neil Wysocki, P.C. Today
Depending on the circumstances, child support issues can be challenging to navigate in a divorce. As a result, it is incumbent on parents to seek professional legal counsel when it comes to the satisfaction or enforcement of their child support obligations. At O’Neil Wysocki, P.C., our legal team is dedicated to making sure parents understand the nature of this duty so that their children’s best interests are adequately preserved.
Get started by scheduling your initial consultation with O’Neil Wysocki, P.C. online or over the phone at (972) 852-8000.