The decision to pay money to an insurance company now so that the insurance company will pay others after you are dead is usually undertaken with some ambivalence. However, life insurance is an important consideration to assure payment of child support.
If you have minor children, you generally will still need life insurance coverage post-divorce. But it is a prospect that many divorcing parents find even more distasteful at that time. Add to this, the fact that the divorce court generally cannot order a party to obtain or continue life insurance. (In Virginia, the court can order a party to continue existing life insurance coverage and designate children as beneficiaries if the party has a duty of support to such minor children. Va. Code Sec. 20-108. D)
The party who is proponent of the life insurance coverage, usually the economically dependent spouse, will often have to make a concession on some other issue to get the desired life insurance coverage. In many cases, since that concession would mean less money now to the economically dependent spouse, the concession is not made and the life insurance is not agreed to. As a result, many divorced fathers and mothers have far less life insurance coverage than a married parent with similar income, net worth and family responsibilities would have. One more risk for children of divorce.
When we represent the economically dependent spouse, or in case where there are two significant income earners, we look carefully at apparent life insurance needs and counsel clients to seek an agreement requiring adequate life insurance coverage. When we represent the higher earner, if there are minor children, we counsel our client to carefully examine the life insurance need and think it through before bargaining for lower coverage.
It is always necessary from the insured’s viewpoint for the Agreement to provide for reduced coverage as the future financial obligation decreases over time. This is especially important if the life insurance policy does not lock in level premiums per unit of coverage for the duration of the obligation.
It is best to consult with an experienced life insurance agent with a highly rated insurance company while the marital settlement agreement is being negotiated to determine the availability and cost of coverage. For further information see: https://www.consumersadvocate.org/life-insurance.