How Does Life Insurance Policy Work During a Divorce in New York?

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Before going into a divorce, you may need to ask your divorce attorney in New York what happens to your life insurance policy.

Some other questions we sincerely suggest you ask any professional divorce lawyer you intend to hire are:

Do divorce change life insurance beneficiaries?

Does a life insurance policy automatically go to a spouse?

Does life insurance have to be left to the spouse?

Does life insurance count as an asset in divorce?

And can my ex-wife have a life insurance policy on me?

In this article, we will answer all these frequently asked questions about life insurance and divorce.

Divorce has significant repercussions for your and your spouse’s life insurance coverage. Divorce has an impact on your current policies, but the court may also force you to get additional life insurance as part of your case.

 A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Change Your Life Insurance Beneficiary After a Divorce

As you may know, when you get life insurance, you must name a beneficiary, the person to whom the policy would payout in the event of your death. Most couples who have life insurance name each other as beneficiaries. When you are divorced, talk to your financial advisor about reviewing all your life insurance plans and changing the beneficiaries to reflect your new circumstances. 

If you remarry, you’ll almost certainly want to list your new spouse as a beneficiary. Check with the different life insurance companies where you have policies, as each will have its own beneficiary change procedures and papers.

You won’t be able to change the beneficiary on your own if your spouse is named as an irrevocable beneficiary on your policy. If your spouse does not agree to the change, the court will impose it.


You may want to name your children as beneficiaries, but keep in mind that if they are minors, payments cannot be given directly to them. Instead, you have three options to pick from:

  1. Making a contribution to a custodian who will manage the children’s funds
  2. directing payment to a trust for the benefit of the children
  3. naming your ex-spouse as the beneficiary to manage your children’s funds.

How the New York State Law Determines Who Takes the Death Benefit After a Divorce

How the New York State Law Determines Who Takes the Death Benefit After a Divorce

With all of the changes that divorce brings, it’s normal for life insurance to be forgotten, and many people find themselves in a scenario where they forget to change their beneficiary when they divorce. You might die a long time from now. Your ex-spouse could still be named as the payor on your life insurance policy if you didn’t alter your beneficiary, leaving your adult children or new spouse without the benefits you expected for your whole life insurance policy

This concern is recognized under New York state law. It indicates that unless your divorce judgment states otherwise, your spouse is automatically revoked as the beneficiary on your life insurance policy upon divorce. This protects you in the event that you forget to change the beneficiary. 

However, because you did not select a new beneficiary, the probate court will have to decide to who the policy should be paid when you die. To avoid this issue, update the beneficiary yourself so that you may pick where the payment goes and maintain control.

Life Insurance Policies Jurisdiction

How does life insurance work after a divorce? Most non-simple term life insurance policies have a cash value that can be exchanged at any time throughout the policy’s duration. This monetary worth is a marital asset that must be divided as part of your divorce settlement.

As a result, once a divorce petition is filed in New York, neither party is allowed to change beneficiaries, terminate, or fail to pay on any existing life insurance policies. The policies are subject to the court’s jurisdiction and must be retained until the court determines how to distribute or modify them.

Does Child and Spousal Support Take Away Life Insurance from Beneficiaries?

What happens to a life insurance policy when you get divorced? The divorce court has discretion over what happens to your existing life insurance policies and might even order you to purchase new ones. The court creates an ongoing responsibility for you to pay financial assistance for your spouse or children when child support or spousal support is awarded as part of your case.

The requirement applies to your children until they reach the age of majority. It could be for a fixed number of years, or it could be for the rest of their lives. In either case, the court finds that your spouse and/or kid will require financial assistance from you in the future. You can also get a New York child insurance plan to help protect your child.

Your family will be left without those regular payments for their support if you die before your child reaches the age of majority or before your spousal support obligation period expires. Because of this possibility, the court might order that any spousal support or child support order be accompanied by a life insurance policy that will cover the complete amount of all support owed to the spouse or child. This offers a safety net so that if you pass away before finishing your support payments, your ex-spouse or kid will still receive the money.

Assume you’ve been told you need to get affordable life insurance in this case. In such a situation, it’s critical to get started as soon as possible because obtaining a policy can take four to six weeks and may require a physical examination. The court or your spouse’s attorney will require you to submit proof of the policy’s acquisition.

If you are a spouse who will be receiving spousal support backed by life insurance, or if your spouse is required to furnish life insurance to get child support, you may want to be placed on the policy as a third party. This allows you to monitor the policy’s payment status and health to ensure that your ex keeps the policy current, in effect, and with the beneficiaries specified by the court. This gives you enough time to intervene if your spouse fails to pay the policy or tries to change the beneficiary.


Understanding how your life insurance is affected by divorce will help you make informed decisions as you plan for your post-divorce life. The spouse will be denied the death benefits if it is discovered that he or she murdered the policyholder.

Editorial Team
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