Usually your death represents the end of many things, but under the law some obligations can still continue long after you are gone. Often times, these debts are handled through the estate of an individual and it is usually the responsibility of the personal representative of the estate to handle these affairs. Child support is no different.

Why doesn't child support terminate on your death in Indiana?

Indiana has several statutes that deal specifically with the issue of a non-custodial parent dying and how it impacts his or her child support payments:

IC 31-16-6-7 - Effect of child's emancipation or death of parent obligated to pay support - Sec. 7. (a) Unless otherwise agreed in writing or expressly provided in the order, provisions for child support are terminated: (1) by the emancipation of the child; but (2) not by the death of the parent obligated to pay the child support. (b) If the parent obligated to pay support dies, the amount of support may be modified or revoked to the extent just and appropriate under the circumstances on petition of representatives of the parent's estate.

IC 31-14-11-19 Effect of child's emancipation or death of parent obligated to pay support - Sec. 19. Unless otherwise agreed in writing or expressly provided in the order, provisions for child support are terminated by the emancipation of the child, but not by the death of a parent obligated to pay support.

IC 31-14-11-20 Death of parent obligated to pay support; modification or revocation of support - Sec. 20. Subject to section 19 of this chapter, if a parent obligated to pay support dies, the amount of support may be modified or revoked to the extent just and appropriate under the circumstances on petition of representatives of the parent's estate.

IC 31-14-11-21 Claim against parent's estate - Sec. 21. Child support that: (1) the parent was obligated to pay; and (2) has not been paid at the time of the parent's death; constitutes a priority claim against the estate.

What is clear from the above statutes is that if you die owing child support or having a child support order in place, your estate will likely have to pay some type of child support. In some instances the personal representative of the estate can move to have the child support modified or revoked based on the particular facts of a particular case.

Another thing to remember that while child support is given a priority claim according to I.C. 31-14-11-21, it is still in the back of the line compared to other types of claims under I.C. 29-1-14. In most cases, people will probably pass away with a little more than enough to cover last medical expenses, funeral expenses, and a few other items that can have a priority claim above child support. In such a case collecting back child support would be no different than collecting a credit card debt or past due bill. Basically, you would be out of luck.