General Question

rojo's avatar

Why would a divorced parent suddenly need a childs SSN?

Asked by rojo (22067points) April 24th, 2014

It was an amicable split about two years ago now.

Child lives with parent A about 60% of the time. Parent A maintains a home, provides for the childs general welfare including the majority of the clothing, health insurance and treatment if necessary, arranges school, etc. Parent B has the child a couple of times a week. Parent B floated from friend to friend until last May when he rented an apartment close by, in the same school district. Parent B has the child two to three days a week, no set schedule but many times every other day. Both parents have, and live with, significant others.

Parent B suddenly requests the childs SSN number. When asked why says that his lease is up and he is renting a single-family home and needs it for that.

Does that sound right? I have been in the rental business for several years now and have never asked for a childs SSN for a lease. We have a blank where children, and others who may be living there, are listed and we do ask for SSN’s on all adults but we also do background checks on all tenants.

One final item, last week Parent A jumped on Parent B’s butt because the school called Parent A to complain about the number of tardies and absences. Turns out of the 40 school days Parent B had the child, she had been late 28 times and absent three. Parent B was told by Parent A that if he could not be more responsible and if there were any more tardies or unknown/unexcused absences that Parent A would take full custody of the child from Sunday evening to Friday afternoon. She would not cut off all contact, Parent B could still pick the child up and interact with her in the afternoon but that child would need to be at her home from 7pm in the evening in order to do homework and still get to bed at a decent hour.

I apologize for the long ramble.

What could be the real reason this is suddenly become important to Parent B? Is he planning some kind of legal action?

What are all the possible reasons that a childs SSN would be needed or necessary?

Hive minds are better than one. What am I missing; thought and ideas all?

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35 Answers

janbb's avatar

My Ex recently asked for my two sons’ SS# but they are adults. My assumption in that situation was that he was making a new will or something like that.

dappled_leaves's avatar

The only illegitimate reason I can think of is trying to claim the child as a dependent… but your tax deadline is already up. Perhaps he just doesn’t realize that he can ignore the SSN field for children on the rental application.

I suppose you could always tell him to have his potential landlord contact you if it’s an issue.

Judi's avatar

I can think of two reasons. One good and one not so good.
Parent B has bad credit and is looking for a legitimate clean social security number to use to get the apartment (bad reason)
Or, parent B is setting up some sort of account for the child’s future like a Franklin Fund, a college find or something. I think savings bonds require a social security number as well.
From your description parent B doesn’t sound like a stable guy saving for his child’s future.

Pandora's avatar

Social Security numbers aren’t required of any child under the age of 18 because their name does not go on the lease. At least this is how it was when I rented apartments. Different states may have different rules. But I would have some parents put it down because they would see a bunch of lines on the application paperwork but they would miss where it would say that only names and date of birth were required for children under the age of 18. If your child is over the age of 18 than their social security will also be required.

gailcalled's avatar

I can’t specifically answer the question but know that both my children’s father and I, after we were divorced, knew our children’s SSN. They were part of the important data like DOB.

GloPro's avatar

Life Insurance policies require the SS# of recipients. You mentioned the lease asks for a SS#. I can think of a dozen more…

The bigger question is: aren’t both parents equally entitled to have it? If parent B is planning something unpleasant they can still access it by contacting the birth hospital and being on the birth certificate. The child being a minor, with BC parent B contacts SS Admin. I see no reason to withhold it.

Cruiser's avatar

I need my kids SS for their bank accounts, IRA’s and doing my taxes, life/health insurance and school related issues. I was a Realtor for many years and never ever needed, saw or heard of the need of a child’s SS# in any deal ever. If the child has any financial accounts they opened together and she does not trust the father then the mother should open new accounts in her name only.

janbb's avatar

I do agree that each parent is entitled to have it.

gailcalled's avatar

Would it be necessary for a passport or to piggyback on a parent’s passport? When my kids were minors, their father used to take them skiing in Europe each winter.. Since they were his trips, he did the paperwork.

creative1's avatar

Parent B could easily go down to the Social Security office and get it himself rather than get it from you since he his a parent on the birth certicate as well.

JLeslie's avatar

I think it is odd for both parents not to have access to that sort of information. I don’t mean odd that one of the parent has to ask, my dad never would have had mine written down, he would have to ask me or my mom (my parents are still together) I just mean it does come up I would think that SS numbers are needed. Listing a child as a beneficiary, registering them for certain things. As far as a lease, maybe legally he does not have to supply the SS # but the form is set up in a way that he is just filling in blanks.

I don’t see how you can withold an SS number from a parent who has custody of their children. How old are the kids? Don’t they know themselves? I’ve known mine since I was very young.

rojo's avatar

Thanks to all thus far.
To address some of the items.

The child is eight.

The SSN is not being withheld, it was given but the question is why and, more specifically, why now?

He could be making a will. That would be a very responsible action (and knowing him, not very likely), but why say it is because he needs it for a rental?

Could be the tax thing but they have been taking turns on the dependency thing so he could actually just look it up on his 2012 tax return. He was supposed to have claimed her that year. The mother this last year. And, as someone pointed out, he should have already submitted his taxes. It is always possible, maybe even likely, he filed for an extension.

The child has a money market account that they both have access to and contribute to and have done for the last eight years. It is designated as a college fund.

The passport thing is interesting. Something I had not considered. His SO has family in Mexico and we are only hours from the border. But if this is the case, why the lies? Planning a run? I don’t think so, he has a good job now and is happy with it but people have done stranger things.

Again, thanks, and any other suggestions welcomed!

JLeslie's avatar

Is he looking for an apartment? If so, then I think it is probably the truth. Standard forms can be horrible. It could just have a space to list other occupants who will be living there and SS#.

Even with a passport he can’t take the children across the border without a notarized letter from the mom. Or, he shouldn’t be able to if the agent is doing the right thing. Although, the MX border is probably very lose since it is crossed so often. My husband’s cousins cross every day to go to school in America.

JLeslie's avatar

I was just thinking, my SIL had to sign off on something for her husband to get a passport for her son or vice versa. They both had to sign. I don’t know if it was for his American passport or the Italian one.

rojo's avatar

@JLeslie, Most, not all, landlords in the area use either the Texas Assoc. of Realtors forms or some variation thereof. I am somewhat familiar with the form and while all APPLICANTS must provide the SSN, for ”...all other persons who will occupy the property:” They only ask for a name, relationship and age.

I just checked with a realty friend of mine who also handles rental property leases and she says that it would be highly unusual for a legitimate rental agency to ask for a childs SSN. But that while still unusual, an individual landlord might ask.

There is more to this that needing it for a rental.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@rojo Well, ask the guy and let us know when you find out.

zenvelo's avatar

My thought it was so he could use them as a tax deduction. You need the SSN for deductions on the 1040.

rojo's avatar

@dappled_leaves Will do. Can’t guarantee it will be legit but he will give me some kind of answer.

Online searches list all kinds of nefarious stuff like opening credit cards in kids names, having the credit search done in their name, putting utilities in their name, All basically identity theft but is the child even going to be aware, let alone press charges if they find out?

Judi's avatar

@rojo, in the apartment buisness I come across it all the time. A young kid getting their first apartment discovers that their mom or dad has already ruined their credit. I had a kid one time who had the same name as his father. He stole his fathers social security number to get the apartment and then skipped owing money. When I sent the father to collections he came back and told me what had happened. I told him he needed to ca the police and have his son charged with identity theft. Not wanting to see his son get in trouble, he paid the bill.

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi Wouldn’t the young age trigger something? Does an 8 year old have credit? I can see it happening when both are adults. My husband had his father’s Mercedes on his credit. No one was stealing anyone’s identity, the credit bureaus just messed it up. This is going back 23 years, so probably the systems are more sophisticated now. They both have the same name and they had the same address. Doesn’t the credit check double check the applicant’s age?

Judi's avatar

The dad didn’t carry a lot of credit and the kid was maybe 20. Honestly, it’s hard to strike a balance with resident managers. We are constantly in them to fill those empty units and on the other hand we want them to completely scrutinize each credit report.
Our qualifying criteria is a point system. Credit score factors high in the system. It’s easy for a manager to see a 750 score and give them the points without scrutinizing the details.

JLeslie's avatar


cazzie's avatar

I have no idea about SSN in the US as our system is very different here.
The school tardy and absences are a serious concern and would warrant an immediate change of custody arrangement. Here, it would attract the attention of other government agencies and it would be looked at and discussed at length. Parent B wouldn’t just be answering to Parent A, but also to our version of child welfare and protection services.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If it’s for section 8 housing they’d need that info. Just the other day I jumped through 50 hoops getting the twins’ birth certificate. The new county Corrie resides in requires them to get sec 8 housing. This county didn’t.

Dutchess_III's avatar

And BTW, if it was for dastardly reasons, parent B could simply request a copy of the SSN from the vital statistics people. He wouldn’t have to even go through Parent A.

zenvelo's avatar

Is he applying for a new health insurance policy? If he is applying for a policy that covers the kids, he would need the SSN.

rojo's avatar

@zenvelo It crossed my mind but he told his ex that it was because he was moving.

@Dutchess_III Actually, he should have it already. He claimed the child as a deduction the year before. As for the dastardly part, I hope not, he is a good kid, and THAT is part of the problem, he’s 27 this year and at some point needs to become a good adult.

trailsillustrated's avatar

Whatever the reason, the other parent has a right to the numbers and doesn’t have to have a reason it is their child. And all you have to do is go into the ss office and ask. They will give it you it’s what I did and my children weren’t even in that country- my then spouse wanted the dependents.

cazzie's avatar

@rojo I hope he does grow up. My boys father is a 46 year old child. Sometimes, they never do.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why do we end up marrying babies @cazzie? SO frustrating.

rojo's avatar

Thanks for all that provided their input and insight.

Full story and follow-up.

Turns out when he said he was moving and needed the number what he failed to mention was that he was not renting after all but had decided to purchase a home using a federally funded grant program available in our city that provides down payment and mortgage assistance for first time buyers. However there are certain restrictions about income and he makes too much money as a single male; but as a single parent with a child he will qualify, just barely . And that is why he needs the SSN.

@trailsillustrated as I mentioned earlier, nothing was being hidden from him, he has used it already but was either too lazy to look up his tax return or, more likely, lost it and it was easier to ask his ex since he knew she would have the info. than to try and dig it up himself.

He was rather defensive and nasty when asked what he wanted it for but did finally let his ex know. When it was pointed out that the child had was already listed as a dependent in this very same program by his ex and he might want to check into it to verify that this was allowed, his response was just a shrug, a smirk and a comment about the inability of government to find their ass with both hands.

So, the ball is in his court, he was, once again, provided with the information he requested and what he does with it is on his shoulders.

At least he is not running off to Mexico or planning to take out credit cards and utilities in the childs name. Yet.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Boy, he’s a real winner, isn’t he @rojo. He thinks he can get over on the government, though to a certain extent, they CAN be idiots! I just wouldn’t take the chance.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I hope he enjoys his audit.

cazzie's avatar

I would use his inability to get the child to school and THIS bullshit to go to court and get full custody. He’s an asshole.

Dutchess_III's avatar

$$$$, I’m sure.

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