What Happens to Child Support or Maintenance Payments If My Ex Dies?

You have been granted either spousal maintenance or child support, what happens if your ex dies?

Maintenance or spousal support terminates when the paying spouse dies.   Ordinarily, unless arrears are owed, the recipient of the payment has no claim against the payer’s estate.   It is for this reason, that I strongly encourage all periodic payments like maintenance and child support to be secured by a life insurance policy.    In this way, if the paying spouse dies and the payments terminate, the recipient will, at least, receive a lump sum payment.

The amount of insurance should, minimally, be equal to the sum of the payments to be made.   In the case of securing child support, I often suggest that the insurance cover the total amount of child support to be paid plus the anticipated costs of college.

Jeff Landers  astutely suggests that the spouse receiving the payments purchase the insurance.

Once again, if your ex-husband is the higher earner who is paying alimony and/or child support, I highly recommend you purchase a life insurance policy on him in order to secure these important divorce settlement payments . . . you should be both the owner of the policy and the beneficiary –because that way you can be sure that the premiums will be paid on time and the beneficiary(s) won’t be changed without your knowledge and consent.

For those with the means, I further suggest the payments be secured with a disability insurance policy as well.   In this way, if the payer does not die, but merely is disabled and unable to work, the child support or maintenance payments continue.


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