Social Security & Child Support

Here’s a recent case from Wyoming that illustrates a typical answer to a question many parents ask about child support. Specifically, when the noncustodial parent is receiving Social Security benefits for a disability, are those disability payments counted as income? And if so, if the child is receiving the payments, are those payments credited toward the child support the noncustodial parent would otherwisde pay? The court in the case of Groenstein v. Groenstein, 2005 WY 6 (Wyoming 2005), answered yes to both questions.

The Wyoming court’s interpretation matches that of courts in Alabama. Brazeal v. Brazeal, 756 So. 2d 889 (Ala. Civ. App. 1999); Self v. Self, 685 So.2d 732 (Ala. Civ. App. 1996). The Self court said this:

. . . our decision does not serve to terminate the father’s child support obligation, but rather holds that he is entitled to a credit against that obligation for as long as the payments continue. The father’s Social Security income indicates that he would be able to contribute to the children’s support should their Social Security benefits be discontinued. Thus, his obligation is discharged only as long as, and to the extent that, the Social Security payments exceed his child support obligation.

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