The Law Office of Kurt H King

January 26, 2012

7 Things to Remember in Missouri Divorce Cases

7 legal tibits that make a difference–

1.  Social Security benefits, including disability, shall not be divided in a Missouri Dissolution of Marriage case.  (section 169.572 of Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri)

2.  Likewise, Missouri Public Teachers Retirement benefits, which largely take the place of Social Security benefits for such teachers, shall not be divided in a Missouri divorce case.  (section 169.572 also)

3.  For much the same reason, Tier I of railroad retirement basically pays railroad workers what they would have received in Social Security benefits and therefore is not to be divided by the court in a divorce case.  Federal law, 45 U.S.C. section 231m, exempts Tier I benefits from the property a divorce court may divide.   The Railroad Retirement Board will not honor a court dissolution of marriage judgment/order that divides Tier I.  Only Tier II may be divided.

4.  Military disability benefits  are non-marital property of the soldier that the court shall not divide in a divorce case.  But ordinary military retirement benefits are marital property which may be dividedImportant:  the military spouse may elect to receive military disability benefits and if so the ordinary military retirement benefits are reduced dollar for dollar.  A legitimate reason for taking disability instead of ordinary retirement is that the disability benefits are not taxed as income to the receiving spouse.  Settlement agreements should prohibit the military spouse from electing to take disability benefits instead of ordinary retirement, or to indemnify the other spouse if the military spouse so elects and consequently reduces the amount of ordinary military retirement available to the other spouse.  (Morgan v. Morgan, 249 S.W.3d 226, 230 (Mo. Ct. App. W.D. 2008)

5.  In a Missouri divorce case, court cannot validly order a spouse to maintain a life insurance policy(s) to support the chilren in the event of the death of the spouse charged with paying child support, UNLESS the parties so agree [most likely in a settlement agreement in the divorce proceeding].  (Weiss v. Weiss, 954 S.W.2d 456, 459 (Mo. Ct. App. S.D. 19970); Wheeler v. McDonnell Douglas Corp., 999 S.W.2d 279, 287-88 (Mo. Ct. App. E.D. 1999))  But court may order a spouse to maintain life insurance for other reasons such as to secure the payment of maintenance (formerly called alimony).

6.  Social Security paid for a child due to the non-custodial parent’s  disability may be credited against his/her child support obligation.  (Wallace v. Wallace, 269 S.W. 3d 479 (Mo. Ct. App. E.D. 2008); Weaks v. Weaks, 821 S.W.2d 503, 506 (Mo. 1991))

7.  Social Security paid for a child due to the custodial parent’s disability shall  not be a direct dollar for dollar credit against the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation.  (Gerlach v. Adair, 211 S.W.3d 663, 667 (Mo. Ct. App. W.D. 2007).  But the court may still consider–not necessarily as a full dollar for dollar credit but simply as one of many possible factors–that the child has income of his/her own in the form of Social Security benefits.  (See Missouri Child Support Guidelines at Section G, Comment (1).)

Kurt H. King

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


Divorce & Modification, Child Custody & Modification, Paternity

Bankruptcy, Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation

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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