Divorcing spouses and parents have varied life insurance needs. Whenever one or more persons are financially dependent on another’s earnings, there is what the life insurance industry refers to as an insurable interest.
In families of two married parents with young children, the primary wage earner often has life insurance coverage equal to several years earnings. The benefit to the financially dependent spouse and the children is obvious. The benefit to the insured party is the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved ones are provided for in all events.
Often, both spouses carry life insurance coverage because both are employed or, if one is not employed, the stay at home spouse is providing services that would have to be purchased in the event of her, or his, untimely death.
Upon divorce in families with children there is still the same basic economic need for life insurance coverage to protect the child support payments. The children generally would be the beneficiaries of the policy – directly or through a trust. The insured still benefits from knowing his loved ones will be provided for.
Life insurance proceeds paid during the insured’s children’s minority would be needed and would benefit the insured’s children just as they would if he or she died while the children were minors and the insured was married to the other parent at death.
But the dynamic is different in divorce. The insured views the insurance coverage as benefiting the ex-spouse. Often there is hard bargaining around how much insurance coverage there will be, how long it will be in place or how quickly it decreases, and whether the spouse can be the trustee of the trust to which the insurance proceeds are paid.
I’ll explore this further in future posts.
To file a complaint for divorce, you have to have to cite a reason. These are known as as grounds for divorce in Maryland. They are listed in the Maryland Code.
The Code has both fault and no-fault grounds. Fault grounds, such as adultery, desertion and cruelty, are factors the court must consider in determing alimony and distribution of property.
You may have, and plead, multiple grounds for divorce. Or, like in the following case, the wife may plead one ground and the husband may plead another. Who gets to pick the grounds on which the divorce is ultimately granted if more than one applies?
Mary and Timothy Welsh married in 1961. Timothy had degrees in accounting and law and was licensed as a real estate agent. Mary took care of the house and their four children. They acquired a 22 acre property during the marriage.
Mary left Timothy in 1994 and filed for divorce based on adultery. Timothy counterclaimed for divorce after two years of separation.
The trial court said that Mary failed to prove adultery but Timothy conceded it at trial. Nonetheless, the trial court granted the divorce based on separation.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld the decision, stating that:
It is ultimately up to the court, based on its fact finding, to declare the grounds for divorce. It is not reasonable that the court be obligated to grant the divorce on the grounds requested when the judge is more persuaded that it is more likely than not that other grounds for the divorce are more justified.
Welsh v. Welsh; 135 Md.App. 29 (1999)
Question of the Day: Will the government shutdown affect my divorce?
Answer: No. Although the federal government is partially shut down, divorce court is run by the state government.
If your spouse’s parents don’t like you is that grounds for divorce? Consider Kerry’s story.
Kline, a well-known family lawyer, couldn’t sleep past 5 am. So he was the first one in his law office Monday morning. He flipped on the lights and started checking email. Among the dozens of pitches from salespeople and scam artists, one from a young lady named Kerry caught his attention.
“My husband left me on Friday,” she said. “He called me today and said he would like to get back together but his parents are against it and they want him to divorce me. Can he do that legally?”
Kline leaned back in this chair and looked at the ceiling. “No,” he said. “You have to state your grounds for divorce in your complaint. Grounds are reasons for divorce. They are listed in the law. Parents don’t like me is not on the list.”
“What’s on the list?” Kerry asked.
Kline recited the list:
- One Year Separation
- Conviction of a Felony or Misdemeanor
- Excessively Vicious Conduct
- Mutual Consent
“Wow. Thanks,” said Kerry. “Now I’ll be able to sleep.” Kline was wide awake as he filed her email under “Prospective Clients”.
The repair man came to fix the washing machine on Friday. He hooked his computer up to it and it told him that the pressure switch was faulty. He didn’t have a pressure switch on the van. So he went to pick one up.
On Saturday, the washing machine would not start. I called the repair man. This time his computer told him it need a new flow meter. He didn’t have one on the truck. He had to order it and it will be here Tuesday.
Eddie Murphy says he wishes there was a wife store where he could take his wife back and say, “My wife is broke.” I’m sure there are also wives out there who would like to bring their husbands back to the husband store. (My wife may be one of them.)
I guess I’m the closest thing to a new spouse store you can get. People come to me with marriages that don’t work. I wish I could fix them with a replacement part from the van. But it usually it takes a divorce.
“It’s either me or the dog,” a woman in Istanbul told her husband. The husband had brought the dog and a parrot to their apartment.
“We have a baby at home,” she declared. We can’t take care of these animals too.”
The man refused to get rid of the animals. The wife then moved into her parents’ apartment and filed for divorce. She is seeking 100,000 Turkish Liras (about $22,000) and support for herself and the child.
Lawmakers are slowly making divorce easier in Maryland, but you still have to file a complaint with the court and go to a hearing to get a divorce. Meanwhile, England and Wales have introduced digital divorces. Couples can apply for divorce online with a few clicks, upload supporting documents and pay court fees.
Digital Divorces Satisfaction
During the test phase, over 90% of the people using the system said they were satisfied with it.
“It was marvelous, pain-free and less stressful than the paper form which I tried several years ago to complete but got fed up of it being rejected,” said Elaine Everett,
China is also experimenting with a trial program on WeChat, its most popular instant messaging service. A divorce button allows people to make an appointment with the divorce registration office via the Internet.
Click the Easy Button
The downside is these systems make divorce only a click of the Easy Button. “Couples might pull out of marriages much more easily and quickly than they otherwise would, states Dr. Sam Carr at the University of Bath. “This could be good – but it could also be bad in the sense that if we simply have to click our fingers to end our marriages, then how can we learn about, appreciate, understand, and grow from the trials and tribulations that all marriages inevitably have to face from time to time?”
One of my first tasks as a chemical engineer at the Procter & Gamble Company was to design a tank to hold a chemical called Toluene. I had to calculate the parameters, like pressure, volume, and flammable temperature. I was lucky to stumble upon an unused tank on the property that would work and save the company some money.
If someone asked me at a cocktail party what I did for a living, and I said I was a chemical engineer, they would inevitably ask, “What’s a chemical engineer?”
I explained it like this. When a chemist makes an aspirin tablet in his laboratory, he mixes some chemicals in a beaker, heats it over a Bunsen burner, and dries it in a centrifuge. If a company wants to manufacture 10.000 aspirin, they hire a chemical engineer to scale up the beaker to a tank, the Bunsen burner to an industrial heater, the centrifuge to a bigger centrifuge. He will also spec some conveyor belts to move the chemicals through the equipment.
This all changed when I became a divorce lawyer. Now if I’m at a party and mention that I’m a divorce lawyer, I soon have 20 people around me saying, “Let me tell you about my divorce.”
I never been able to reconcile my engineering degree with my law practice, although I feel there is a connection. But yesterday, on the news, some pundant referred to lawyers as legal engineers. Yes, that’s it. When someone comes to me with a divorce, I calculate the parameters, and design a solution that works. I am a legal engineer.
Eighty-five percent of workers worldwide, in an anonymous Gallup poll , said they hated their jobs.
I was talking to opposing counsel last week who told me that after 30 plus years of practicing divorce law, she was going to try something else. She said that the parties were more unreasonable, lawyers were meaner and courts were harsher than when she started and she had reached the end of her patience. She asked me if I was burned out too.
I told her that I wasn’t. I see my work as much more than the tasks required in any particular case. My purpose in life, the reason I am here on earth, is to help people untangle the difficulties they have gotten themselves into, solve problems and sort everything out into good order.
This works for other jobs as well. My wife supervises the front office of a plastic surgery center. I told her that her purpose in life was to help people look their best, add beauty to the world and make people happier. Try reframing your job in the comments below.