UPDATED: Mar 26, 2020
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The one thing that’s certain about life is it’s anything but certain. Not everything goes our way or as we expect it to. Sadly, that applies to marriage, too.
No one (at least no one whom I’ve ever known) gets married thinking that it won’t last “until death do we part.” But people grow apart. People take each other for granted. People decide they want out.
Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce according to statistics from the CDC/National Center for Health Statistics.
So what do you do if you get divorced and have a term life insurance policy with your ex-spouse as a beneficiary?
The answer: It depends.
Term Life Insurance and Divorce
Your options will vary depending on the divorce settlement.
Quite commonly, divorce agreements state that one spouse, generally the parent paying child support or alimony, must maintain life insurance on themselves to provide some financial stability for their ex if they pass away before they’ve met their financial obligations. So if you have a term life policy, you may need to keep it. If you don’t have a life insurance policy, you may need to apply for one if there’s a court order requiring you to get one.
Depending on your situation, you might negotiate transferring ownership of your term life policy to your ex-spouse. In that scenario, your ex-spouse would remain as the beneficiary while assuming responsibility for paying the policy’s premiums.
What if you don’t have children and you purchased your term life policy to help your spouse pay off your home mortgage or pay off other debt if you were to die? You may want to discuss terminating the policy since its original purpose may no longer be a priority for you.
If you have older children dependent on you financially, another option might be to remove your ex-spouse as a beneficiary and change your children’s designation to primary beneficiaries.
These are just a few directions things could go. Again, your options will vary according to your divorce settlement and related court decisions.
Educate Yourself About Your Options and Get Expert Guidance
Although term life isn’t considered an investment in marital property like whole life insurance with a cash value, it still requires attention when you’re going through a divorce.
Talk with your attorney and a financial planning professional about your options. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so it’s important to discuss your situation with trusted experts who can cover all the bases.
Although I’m not divorced, I have a fair share of family members and friends who have gone through it. Whether a divorce is amicable or not, it’s extremely stressful. Empowering yourself with knowledge and sound advice won’t eliminate the heartache, but it can minimize the headaches.
Haven’t looked into the affordability of term life yet? Get a free, no-obligation quote now and connect with a knowledgeable insurance professional who can answer your questions.