Life Insurance for the Benefit of the Minor Children
Key Points
  • Life insurance on the life of the paying parent is for the benefit of the children and their financial future until the children reach the age of majority.
  • Child support is for the benefit of the child so if anything happens to the paying parent, it is important to have life insurance to cover these payments.

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 Anderson’s 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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ALIMONY PROTECTION -- Courts sometime require a spouse to maintain life insurance to protect his or her former partner’s alimony. The payor is required to maintain insurance for the payee’s benefit.

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