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Can an inheritance be used for child support?

An inheritance isn’t a part of a parent’s income. But, should these funds go towards child support?

New York law has several policies in place that determine how an inheritance, lottery winnings and personal property should be handled if the parent has child support obligations.

Determining child support

To determine how much a parent should pay for child support, New York courts consider all of the financial resources the non-custodial parent has available — not just their income.

If your ex-spouse receives money each month through a trust, owns a luxury vehicle or has come into a great deal of money through lottery winnings, these assets will be taken into consideration.

Making up for missing payments

For parents who owe child support, there’s no free money. If your ex-spouse is expecting an inheritance after the death of a loved one or has won the lottery, these financial gains will go straight toward their child support debt first.

Overdue child support payments can be forcibly collected by the state. The state can seize bank accounts and tax returns or order the parent's assets to be liquidated.

Adjusting support payments

If your ex-spouse now earns more money than was originally assessed when the child support order was established, modifications may be made.

Modifications to a child support arrangement can also be made if your own circumstance necessitates a higher cost of living. For example, Britney Spear's ex-spouse is currently requesting an increase to the $20,000 he receives in child support each month because their children have grown older.

How much of an inheritance or gift will be used for child support?

There are no restrictions on the amount of the parent’s inheritance, gift or winnings that can be seized to meet child support payments.

However, a Family Law attorney can offer guidance as to the whether your situation constitutes a child custody modification and what payment amount may be more appropriate.

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