Do I Have to Maintain a Life Insurance Policy?

If you are ordered to pay alimony to your spouse, the Court might also order that you secure the alimony obligation by maintaining a life insurance policy that names your spouse as a beneficiary. A recent case out of Florida's First District Court of Appeals set forth the legal requirements necessary for a court to order a person to maintain a life insurance policy. The trial court must make certain findings, otherwise the order could possibly be overturned on appeal.

In Therriault v. Therriault, the First District Court of Appeals found that the trial court did not make requisite findings when it ordered the Husband to maintain a life insurance policy to secure his alimony obligation. The appellate court stated that the trial court is authorized by Florida Statute to require the Husband to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy to secure his alimony award.

“[i]n order to support the life insurance requirement, the trial court must make specific evidentiary findings as to the availability and cost of insurance, the [former husband's] ability to pay, and the special circumstances that warrant such security.” Such special circumstances include a spouse potentially left in dire financial straits after the death of the obligor spouse due to age, ill health and/or lack of employment skills, obligor spouse in poor health, minors living at home, supported spouse with limited earning capacity, obligor spouse in arrears on support obligations, and cases where the obligor spouse agreed on the record to secure an award with a life insurance policy.

In my experience, it’s usually common practice for the payor to simply agree to maintain a life insurance policy. If you are seeking an award of alimony or you believe you might be obligated to pay alimony, it would be advisable that you contact your expert family law attorney to discuss the obligation to maintain a life insurance policy.