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What Is a Disabled Parent's Child Support Obligation?

Child-Support-thumb-275x154-85398.jpgDivorce is seldom an easy process.

It can be especially painful when you're on disability, and your ex-spouse is unhappy with the sum the court orders you to pay in child support payments.

Melinda and David Daugherty, who live in Napa County, married and had two children. Then they divorced.

David was receiving Social Security disability payments, and his wife and children were receiving derivative Social Security disability payments. These are payments that the Social Security Administration automatically calculate and pay to spouses and children on the theory that disabled parents can't earn a reasonable salary and therefore the children, and in this case the wife, become eligible to receive benefits as well.

Melinda felt that the Napa County Superior Court erred when it didn't include the derivative payments as part of her ex-husband's income for the purpose of calculating his child support obligation.

She believed that the Social Security benefits that she and her children received should be considered as part of her husband's income. If the court combined derivative payments in addition to David's benefit, his child support payments would be considerably higher.

Melinda thought she had a good case and filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal of the State of California.

The justices didn't agree with her. They quoted prior authority in its affirmation of the trial court's decision and noted that because the children and Melinda were already receiving benefits as a result of David's disability, that the amounts they received should apply as credit to any obligation David had.

Basically, Melinda lost her appeal.

Are Your Eligible for Social Security Disability Derivatives?

The government estimates that 4.4 million children receive $2.5 billion each month because one or both of their parents are disabled, retired or deceased.

The purpose of the derivative benefits is to provide for the necessities of life and in the case of young children, provide the type of financial support they need to receive a high school diploma.

Children are eligible to receive these payments when:

  • A parent is disabled or retired and entitled to Social Security benefits; or
  • A parent died after having worked long enough in a job where he or she paid Social Security taxes

The eligible child also must be:

  • Single.
  • Younger than 18.
  • 18-19 and a full-time student in high school.
  • 18 or older and disabled

If you have questions about your benefits and how they might apply to your divorce case, call Jim Sansone

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