As representative payee, you should be controlling the benefits and insuring that the money is used for the children's needs. This would prevent the mother from taking physical control of the money. Whether she will be legally entitled to the benefits as child support will need to be determined in connection with a child support order. If Social Security has already started paying dependent benefits, his paternity must have been established. Typically when paternity is decreed, a child support order is entered, and that is where the entitlement to the dependent benefits would properly be addressed.
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I completely agree with Ms. Sinclair and would suggest that you open a new bank account in your name only and give social security that account and routing number and ask them to deposit the children's payments into this account only. Do not put your son's payments into that account. If you are the representative payee, you have the right to change what account the money goes into because you are in charge of that money for the benefit of the kids and the cost of raising them.
My colleagues have given you great advice. In case it was a bit confusing, the short answer is that the mother is not entitled to take the money, but the fact that those funds are being paid by Social Security for the children will be taken into account if and when a child support order is entered. If that happens, then you may find that you will be sending some of the children's money to the state for disbursement to her as part of the support order. Until there is a support order, you are in control of those funds, to use them for the children's care and maintenance. If the mother files for support, your son should consider retaining an experienced family law attorney in your area to represent him. That way, not only will he have someone to present his case at court, but also someone who can then explain to you what, if any, responsibility you might have to make payments out of the children's benefits. The suggestion that you segregate the funds for your son and his children into two separate accounts is a very good one and you should do this as soon as possible if you haven't already done so. In fact, I'd go so far as to suggest that you set up separate accounts for each child's money.
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