Monday, April 7, 2014

Child Support Obligation After Death of the Child

David A. Shane, now 47 years old, was convicted in 1997 of the 1994 murder and feticide of 23 year old Nicole Lynn Koontz who was seven months pregnant with Shane’s co-defendant’s, Robert L. Hicks’, child. Shane is serving a 60 year sentence for the crime.

Shane and his ex-wife divorced in 1990 and have a daughter Ashlie born in 1988. He was ordered to pay $67 per week in child support. Ashlie died in a house fire in April 2006 when she was 18 years old. At the time of her death, Shane was not current on his child support payments and owed some child support arrears. In December 2012, Delaware County child support obtained an income withholding order to recover some of the child support arrears.

Shane earns $0.95 per hour working in the prison laundry and works about 37 hours per week. The Delaware Circuit Court ruled that Shane must continue to pay 55% of his prison wages to pay off the child support arrears because the child support arrears don’t terminate with the death of the child. The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld this ruling and found that Shane missed the deadline to appeal the decision by nine days.

In California, the obligation to financially support your children is taken seriously. Failure to pay child support can result in revocation of the driver’s license, or any other licenses or permits issued by the state of California, or even potential jail time. Child support arrears can’t be discharged during bankruptcy and if the paying parent dies, if there are child support arrears, the receiving parent becomes a creditor against paying parent’s estate for repayment of the arrears. While the death of the child would have terminated the current child support order, the arrears were incurred while the child was still alive and the arrears don’t get discharged because the child is no longer living. The receiving parent is still owed the money that he/she should have received as financial assistance from the other parent during that period. 

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