Life Insurance, Divorce, and Spousal Support in Virginia

In July of 2017, a new law went into effect in Virginia that allows the Court to mandate a life insurance policy for the entire term of a spouse’s support obligation. This will ensure that a surviving ex-spouse receives their support obligation even in the case of one party’s death.

Prior to the implementation of this new law, a spouse could only receive the other spouse’s life insurance policy if they were specifically listed as the named beneficiary and typically only if they had agreed upon this term out of court. This was problematic, as an early death could lead to the end of a support obligation, and thus a loss of much-depended on money.

Virginia Does Not Have Revocation on Divorce for Life Insurance Policies

Virginia is one of the few states that does not have an automatic revocation on divorce for life insurance policies.

A revocation on divorce means that upon the finalization of your divorce, you are automatically revoked from everything in your ex-spouse’s estate. The only way this can be avoided is if your ex-spouse changes their will to specifically include you in it, post-divorce. However, it is extremely unlikely your ex-spouse wants you to get your hands on any of their assets in their estate.

Because Virginia does not have a revocation on divorce for life insurance policies, the life insurance policy has to be changed by the holder of the policy (ex-spouse) physically changing the beneficiary, as outlined in the provisions of the life insurance policy. Oftentimes, a spouse will forget that their ex-spouse is a beneficiary of the life insurance policy and will forget to change them or assume that the revocation on divorce provision will preclude the other spouse from inheriting.

It is crucial to have a knowledgeable attorney like Van Smith and the attorneys at Smith Strong, PLC to guide you through your divorce process to ensure you do not unintentionally leave an asset to your ex-spouse if you do not mean to.

New Law Allowing the Court to Mandate a Life Insurance Policy for the Entire Term of a Spouse’s Support Obligation

With the implementation of the new law (see § 20-107.1:1 of the Code of Virginia for more information), the Court can mandate a life insurance policy for the entire term of a spouse’s support obligation. In making this determination, the Court will consider a number of factors including the:

  • Age, health, and insurability of the insured party,
  • The age and health of the beneficiary spouse,
  • The cost of the life insurance policy,
  • The amount and term of spousal support,
  • The insurance rates at the time of the support order,
  • The ability of either spouse to pay the insurance premium, and
  • Other factors the court deems necessary for consideration

This is beneficial to the party receiving support payments, as it ensures a source of income that is provided for with the support obligation. The attorneys at Smith Strong, PLC can help you receive the necessary support payments after your divorce.

Special thanks to co-author and fellow researcher, Hayden-Anne Breedlove for her contribution with this article. Hayden-Anne Breedlove anticipates graduating from the University of Richmond School of Law in May of 2019.

H. Van Smith
Trusted Virginia Family Law Attorney Serving Richmond to Williamsburg