Is Life Insurance Required in New York State Law in a Divorce?

by Teo Spengler

Life insurance can play an important role in a divorce. A divorce court can require that an existing life insurance policy be maintained with the ex-spouse or minor children as beneficiaries. It can also order a divorcing spouse to obtain and maintain such a policy. However, obtaining a life insurance policy is not a general condition of a divorce in New York.

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New York Divorce

As in every other state, a New York divorce can be difficult or expedited depending on whether the couple agrees on divorce issues like property division, child custody and support. If one spouse qualifies for residence under state laws, either spouse can file a petition for divorce in the New York Supreme Court. Forms are available from the courts and also from online legal service providers.

Marital Property

In New York, marital property to be equitably divided upon divorce includes all property acquired by either spouse from the day of marriage through the divorce filing. it excludes property either spouse received through gift or inheritance or to compensate for pain and suffering in a personal injury case. Life insurance policies purchased or paid for during the marriage are marital property and subject to equitable division by the court.

Divorce Agreement

Sometimes a divorce agreement may specify that a spouse paying support maintain a life insurance policy to protect his children or former spouse in case he dies before his obligations terminate. If a New York court approves the agreement, its decree essentially orders the parties to follow the terms they agreed to, including any terms regarding the life insurance policy.