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Workers' Compensation

Mississippi: Unpaid Child Support Lien Does Not Attach to Death Benefits Where Deceased "Father" Gave Up Parental Rights

The Supreme Court of Mississippi, in a divided decision, reversed a similarly divided decision by the state's Court of Appeals, and held that where a father's parental rights had been terminated through a properly administered adoption proceeding at a time when the employee owed some $35,000 in unpaid child support, the father’s children ceased to be his dependents. Based on that severance of family status, when the father subsequently died in a work-related accident, no death benefits -- other than funeral expenses -- were payable. Since no benefits were payable, there was no fund upon which any child support lien could attach and a former spouse's civil action to impose such a lien must fail. The majority stressed that under Miss. Code Ann. § 71-3-25, death benefits are payable only to specified persons, such as a surviving spouse, child or children, and other persons dependent on the deceased employee at the time of the injury that resulted in death. At the time of the injury that resulted in his death, the employee had no dependents and left no statutory dependents. Under the Act, therefore, other than funeral expenses, no death benefits were payable in the case.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Young ex rel. Heirs of Tewksbury v. Air Masters Mech., Inc., 2020 Miss. LEXIS 96 (Apr. 20, 2020)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 89.08.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

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