The Law Office of Kurt H King

November 10, 2011

Divorce and Orders regarding Life Insurance for the benefit of the Children of the Marriage in Missouri

Filed under: Divorce,Family Law,Support — kurthking @ 4:47 pm
Tags: , , ,

The question comes up about whether the court the non-custodial parent who is ordered to pay child support in a divorce case in Missouri can legally be ordered to maintain life insurance coverage on his/her life to pay out to or for the minor children of the marriage should the non-custodial parent die. 

Right now, and the law may change on this in the future, the answer is that the court can make that order in a judgment dissolving the marriage IF the parties so agree in a settlement agreement which is part of the judgment and the parties ordered to comply with the terms of the settlement agreement.  See Wheeler v. McDonnell Douglas Corporation, 999 S.W.2d 279, 287-88, hns. 9-11 (Mo. Ct. App. E.D. 1999); and, Weiss v. Weiss, 954 S.W.2d 456, 459, hn. 6 (Mo. Ct. App. S.D. 1997).

However, if there is no settlement agreement, then the court generally CANNOT validly order the non-custodial parent to maintain life insurance for the benefit of the children of the marriage.  The rationale is that such an order makes the non-custodial parent pay child support past the date of his/her death which is contrary to Missouri law.

But, note that a court may order a spouse to maintain life insurance with the other spouse as beneficiary to secure that spouse’s obligation to pay a particular sum of maintenance over time or perhaps to satisfy some other marital obligation as ordered by the court.  This type of life insurance order may be used because it is not one which has do with child support.

In sum, the rule now in Missouri (other states may handle this differently) is that the court cannot validly order the non-custodial parent to maintain life insurance for the benefit of the children unless the parties so agree in a written settlement included or perhaps incorporated in the court’s divorce judgment.

It would also be a good idea to provide (and get a receipt in person or by Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested) a copy of the judgment and settlement agreement to the insurance company to put them on notice in case the non-custodial parent tries to change the beneficiary or cancel/non-renew the policy.

Kurt H. King

Law Office of Kurt H. King, 816.781.6000, 20 E. Franklin, Liberty, Clay County, Missouri 64068

Bankruptcy, Child Support & Custody, Divorce & Modification, Family Law

Personal Injury, Missouri Workers’ Compensation

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