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February 10, 2007 2:03 PM   Subscribe

My mother collects back child support from my father on a monthly basis, in the event of her death who will receive it?

My brother and I have been estranged from our mother for the last 5 years and know we have been written out of her will. She is currently married to a man who she had met when my younger brother was 18 (He's currently 25, I'm 27). He never provided for my brother or me financially in anyway (the guy never worked). The total back child support owed is in excess of $120,000, which my mother receives ~$1,200 a month payment from a garnishment on my father's wages. Is that sum part of her estate and will those payments go to him or does it follow with the children? If it is part of her estate, is it possible to have it excluded from it. In the event of her death, what immediate steps should be taken to prevent him from receiving these payments which come via the district attorney's office?

All the parties involved live in California (aside from my estranged father of 21 years, who lives in Washington state) and my parent's divorce took place in California as well, if that matters.
posted by Mijo Bijo to Law & Government (8 answers total)
See a lawyer. This is not the kind of question where you should rely on the kindness of strangers in order to get advice.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:16 PM on February 10, 2007

Seconding the lawyer advice. I'm pretty sure you would be entitlted to some portion of that money. Especially if you were in school. I live in VA and when I turned 18, the checks were then issued to me and I collected until I was 25.
posted by heartquake at 2:20 PM on February 10, 2007

Thirding get a lawyer. Anyone who would actually know the answer to this question (a California family lawyer) would be ethically barred from giving you any help through MeFi.

Just talking to a lawyer would probably be free. Any payment would probably be a portion of whatever money you would get.
posted by yesno at 3:21 PM on February 10, 2007

Lawyer up
posted by nj_subgenius at 3:55 PM on February 10, 2007

It's possible the judgment isn't structured this way, or could be restructured, but it's not hard to see how her lawyer would argue that it should be an asset of her state, freely bequeathable by your mom to your step-father with not a dime for you. The judgment isn't for your benefit, but to reimburse her for costs she wouldn't have borne had your father obeyed his child support decree when you were kids. That was really money she could have invested and that's what she's getting back now.
posted by MattD at 4:30 PM on February 10, 2007

IANAL, but I was going to say the same thing as MattD. However, you might be in a position to contest the will or something like that. So do talk to a lawyer.
posted by acoutu at 6:37 PM on February 10, 2007

I am surprised no one has suggested it, but get a lawyer. Even if you get the right answer on here, you will need a lawyer to pursue your claim.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:09 PM on February 10, 2007

I plan on getting a lawyer, I was just hoping that someone on MeFi had some legal knowledge regarding this type of thing. I posted the question due to my own impatience of not having a clue as to what legal ground I stand, any answer I received here would not influence my decision to get a lawyer.
posted by Mijo Bijo at 2:05 AM on February 11, 2007

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