Is Life Insurance Separate or Marital Property In Divorce?
Key Points
  • Life insurance can be considered marital or separate depending on the funds used to pay the premiums.

As a general rule, a life insurance policy in existence at the time of classification of property is classified according to the general rules applicable to any other item of property: To the extent the premiums were paid with marital funds, the policy is marital property; to the extent the premiums were paid with separate property, the policy is separate property. Therefore, the policy itself can have both separate and marital components, e.g.:

  • Money v. Money, 852 P.2d 1158 (Alaska 1993);
  • In re Ryman, 172 Ill. App. 3d 599, 527 N.E.2d 18 (1988);
  • In re Marriage of Driscoll, 563 N.W.2d 640 (Iowa Ct. App. 1997);
  • Wear v. Mizell, 263 Kan. 175, 946 P.2d 1363 (1997);
  • Mount v. Mount, 59 Md. App. 538, 476 A.2d 1175 (1984);
  • Reichert v. Reichert, 246 Neb. 31, 516 N.W.2d 600 (1994);
  • Vail-Beserini v. Beserini, 237 A.D.2d 658, 654 N.Y.S.2d 471 (1997);
  • Lindsey v. Lindsey, 342 Pa. Super. 72, 492 A.2d 396 (1985);
  • Graham v. Graham, 195 W. Va. 343, 465 S.E.2d 614 (1995).

But see La Barre v. La Barre, 251 A.D.2d 1008, 674 N.Y.S.2d 235 (1998) (life insurance was separate property where there was no evidence as to how many premiums were paid with marital funds).

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CHILDREN’S INSURANCE -- Divorcing parents must negotiate health and dental insurance for their minor children as part of their separation agreement. Sometimes the spouses negotiate a qualified medical support order, known as a QMCSO, which can be part of COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) coverage that also protects the former spouse.

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