As part of a divorce, you may receive or pay child support and/or alimony. Much negotiation may go into arriving at the support amount based on a variety of factors. However, once an amount is agreed to, the negotiation does not stop there. For most child support and/or alimony is necessary to pay their bills and support their children. Given the necessity, it is important that a provision for life insurance be included in your separation agreement.
M. G. L. c. 208, sec. 55 provides that a Court may require reasonable security for alimony in the event of the payor’s death during the alimony period. The Appeals Court in Massachusetts has also recognized a need to secure alimony payments through life insurance in the event that the payor spouse passes away. In Braun v. Braun the Court held that although alimony payments terminate at death, it was still within the Court’s discretion to order life insurance security for alimony. Mass. App. Ct. 846 (2007)
Life insurance is also used as a safety net in the event that the payor of child support dies while he/she still has an obligation to pay support for their unemancipated children.
Life Insurance and Your Separation Agreement
When negotiating the inclusion of life insurance in your separation agreement, there are several key considerations:
- How much?
With alimony, M. G. L. c. 208, sec. 55 lists a variety of factors to look at when determining the appropriate amount of life insurance such as, “age and insurability of the payor; cost of insurance; amount of the judgment; policies carried during the marriage; duration of the alimony order. . .”
With child support, the life insurance requirement may vary depending on the ages of your children. If your children are younger, you may want to negotiate a higher amount of life insurance. If your children are closer to adulthood, a lower amount of life insurance might be necessary.
- Who should the beneficiary be?
With alimony, it is fairly clear that the beneficiary should be the spouse receiving the alimony. However, with child support it is a little less clear. There are several options. You can name the parent who is receiving the child support, the children, or a trust that has been established for the benefit of the children.
- How can I ensure that my former spouse is actually maintaining the policy?
In the actual separation agreement, a provision should exist requiring that the party maintaining the life insurance policy provide you with documentation each year that the policy is still in effect and the amount of said policy.
- When should the obligation end?
With child support, the obligation to carry life insurance will end when the child support obligation ends, typically with the emancipation of your youngest child. However, your separation agreement can be structured to reduce the amount of required life insurance as your children age. For example, when your kids are young the obligation might be $500,000 but there might be a provision that once your children reach a certain age the required amount will be lower.
With alimony, the obligation to carry life insurance will typically exist for so long as you have an alimony obligation and are able to obtain life insurance.
What if you are unable to obtain life insurance due to health or age?
There are alternatives to secure a child support and alimony obligation if the payor is unable to secure life insurance. For example, the recipient of the support can be listed as a beneficiary on a retirement account.
If you have any questions regarding life insurance as it relates to your alimony or child support payments, please fee free to contact the experienced family law attorneys at Wilchins Cosentino & Novins LLP at 781-247-8022 or schedule a call here.