Social Security Questions? Ask a Social Security Expert
You need to appear before the Court for the matter because she is minor. You cannot just give her the money. You need a court order on the matter. You may need to retain an attorney to represent you in court and on the matter, too.
If I were you, I would go to the State's attorney [the Plaintiff] on the case immediately to present the issue to the State. This is not an issue you can or need to decide. The judge will decide. I am thinking whoever gets her custody will get that survival benefit for her.
There are two aspects on the matter. You keep your survival benefit because you are still taking care of the other two minors. Her part of the survival benefit is hers. Make sure that you don't spend that part of the money. She is hostile. Why are you offering buy food for them? Don't make the situation more confrontational. Let her go to the SSA. If the SSA gives her the money, let her. However, it is very unlikely to happen.
Please feel free to follow up.
Fiona Chen, MPA, Ph.D., CPA, ABV, CFF, CITP