Personal Law
March 4, 2020

Paying your step children's child maintenance after their parent dies

Many people assume when they divorce with minor children that both parents will be around to see each child through education and safely settled at university. Just as the death of a spouse is often a shock to his widow financially, the death of an ex-husband can send shockwaves through his former wife’s current family who has been relying upon his financial support of the children. If back child support is owed, the custodial parent may worry that she’ll never recover the money.


Chris Cornell‘s widow and ex-wife have been in the news recently over the late stars child support agreement.


Vicky Cornell, who was married to the Soundgarden frontman until his death in May 2017, has filed a motion to dismiss his ex-wife Susan Silver’s claim against her.

A statement from her solicitor stated, “Vicky Cornell, the Personal Representative of the Christopher Cornell Estate, appointed by her late husband under his Will, has filed a Motion to Dismiss the inappropriate and frivolous claim filed by Susan Silver. Vicky has paid every penny of child support including all high school and college tuition, educational expenses, and health insurance.”


So what happens in the UK if this happens?


Life Insurance

Consideration should be given within the context of separation and divorce to seeking to protect the financial support of minor children in every situation, including the potential death of a parent who pays child support. In an ideal situation, the financial order upon divorce would provide that the paying parent take out life insurance to cover much or all of their financial support for children until the children leave full time education in accordance with the Child maintenance service ( CMS) guidelines.


Estate Claims

Once a supporting parent has died, support payments die also unless sufficient arrangements were made before their death to continue payment. If, however, the supporting parent was behind in child support payments, the estate will owe the past-due amount.



A supporting parent with numerous assets may have established a trust to provide continuing support for their children. Although the proceeds of this trust will be managed by a trustee - that trustee will have a duty to disburse the trust proceeds in support of the children as directed by the terms of the trust.


To discuss matters further please contact a member of our Family Team on 01892 526344 or email

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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