Life Insurance for the Benefit of the Minor Children

Most courts have recognized their inherent authority to require the support obligor to obtain or maintain life insurance on his/her life for the benefit of the minor children of the marriage, e.g.:

  • Pittman v. Pittman, 419 So. 2d 1376 (Ala. 1982);
  • In re Andersonís Marriage, 541 P.2d 1274 (Colo. Ct. App. 1996);
  • Wolk v. Wolk, 191 Conn. 328, 464 A.2d 780 (1983);
  • In re Marriage of Battles, 564 N.E.2d 565 (Ind. Ct. App. 1991);
  • Graham v. Graham, 595 S.W.2d 720 (Ky. Ct. App. 1980);
  • Vaclav v. Vaclav, 96 Mich. App. 584, 293 N.W.2d 613 (1980);
  • Pauk v. Pauk, 232 A.D.2d 386, 648 N.Y.S.2d 621 (1996);
  • In re Marriage of Willey, 155 Or. App. 352, 963 P.2d 141 (1998);
  • Gimlett v. Gimlett, 95 Wash. 2d 699, 629 P.2d 450 (1981).

Once the children reach the age of majority, the support obligor may remove the children as beneficiaries of the life insurance policy, e.g.:

  • Haydu v. Haydu, 591 So. 2d 655 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1991);
  • Lincoln National Life Insurance Co. v. Watson, 71 Ill. App. 3d 900, 390 N.E.2d 506 (1979);
  • Gray v. Independent Life Insurance Co., 57 Mich. App. 590, 226 N.W.2d 574 (1977);
  • Heinze v. Heinze, 122 N.H. 358, 444 A.2d 559 (1982);
  • Forester v. Forester, 234 A.D.2d 264, 651 N.Y.S.2d 87 (1996).

The courts are much more willing to find they have the authority to order the payor to maintain life insurance for the benefit of minor children than for the benefit of a former spouse because the obligation to support a minor child survives the death of the parent and is imposable on the estate of the payor.

  • In re Marriage of Icke, 540 P.2d 1076 (Colo. 1977).
  • Contra Gardner v. Gardner, 264 Ga. 138, 441 S.E.2d 666 (1994) (child support obligation does not survive death of obligor; court may not order life insurance for benefit of children);
  • Niederkorn v. Niederkorn, 616 S.W.2d 529 (Mo. Ct. App. 1981). Of course, the parties are always free to agree that one or both parents will maintain life insurance for the benefit of the children.

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COBRA -- COBRA, which is the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, guarantees that all individuals who are covered by medical insurance have the right to continue coverage for a monthly fee if employment or marital status changes. A nonemployee spouse in a terminated marriage is entitled to COBRA coverage at his or her own cost for up to thirty-six months.

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