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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 110420
Experience:  Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
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Are child support arrearages considered a California Family

Customer Question

Are child support arrearages considered a California Family Court "judgement' and can the "judgement" be passed on to the adult children if the parent being owed the past child support/arrearages dies?
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 5 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
A court-ordered child support obligation survives the death of the noncustodial parent and becomes a charge upon his or her estate. See: Taylor v. George (1949) 34 Cal.2d 552, 556; In re Marriage of Bertrand (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 437, 440. Under California law, “the custodial parent, not the child, has the beneficial interest in collecting arrearages in child support.” See: County of Shasta v. Smith (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 329, 335; see also In re Marriage of Lackey (1983) 143 Cal.App.3d 698, 706; In re Marriage of Utigard (1981) 126 Cal.App.3d 133, 141–143.
This means that the child support arrears would be a debt of the estate and would have to be paid before any heirs can take anything from the estate. If heirs take anything from the estate without paying a valid claim of the person seeking to collect the arrears, then they can be held personally liable, HOWEVER, if there is a valid claim made against the estate for arrears, then that does not mean the children are personally liable to pay it if there are insufficient assets in the estate to pay. So the judgment is not passed onto the adult children, it is paid out of the estate before any heirs can collect on their inheritance from the estate.

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