When a court makes a determination that an award of alimony is appropriate in a divorce case, one of the things with which the court may concern itself is taking steps to ensure the obligation is met. To do that, the law allows courts to demand that supporting spouses purchase life insurance to secure the award. Florida law also, however, dictates some clear hurdles that must be cleared in order for such an order to be allowed. Two cases from this year show this aspect of alimony cases in action. A knowledgeable Florida alimony attorney can help you in an alimony case that involves the mandatory purchase of life insurance.
The more recent of the two cases was a Fifth District Court of Appeal opinion that reversed an alimony award in favor of a husband. As part of this ruling in a divorce case that originated in Seminole County, the appeals court overturned the trial judge’s order that required the wife to maintain a $500,000 life insurance policy as security for the alimony obligation that she owed.
Florida law permits courts to order supporting spouses to purchase and maintain life insurance as security for alimony obligations. However, the law also places some clear boundaries regarding when such an obligation can be demanded. In order for a supporting spouse to be legally obliged to maintain life insurance for this reason, the trial court must first make several specific factual findings. The court must make determinations about insurability, about the cost of the policy, and about the ability of the supporting spouse to afford the insurance, as well as the impact on the supporting spouse of ordering such an insurance policy purchase requirement.
In other words, the concepts that surround the requirement of purchasing life insurance to secure an alimony obligation are similar to those that surround alimony itself. The supporting spouse must have an ability to pay for the policy, and the spouse receiving alimony must have a demonstrated need. The law requires the trial court to make specific findings of fact on all of these things. Additionally, the law dictates that “the amount of life insurance required must not exceed the support obligation.”
If the trial court fails to make all of these mandatory findings of fact, that may entitle you to obtain a reversal of the order requiring the policy purchase. That’s what happened in the recent 5th DCA ruling. The trial court did not make findings about “the spouse’s insurability, the cost of the proposed insurance, the ability of the spouse to afford the insurance, and whether appropriate circumstances exist to justify ordering the spouse to maintain this life insurance,” so the wife was able to win her appeal on this issue.
A similar situation played out in the Fourth District Court of Appeal earlier this year. A Broward County judge ordered a husband to continue maintaining two life insurance policies he already held in order to secure his child support and alimony obligations. The husband appealed and won a reversal. As with the Seminole County wife, the Broward County husband won because the court ordered life insurance to be used as a means of securing an alimony obligation without making the required factual findings.
In any type of alimony or other family law dispute, it helps to have skilled counsel fighting for you. The hardworking South Florida alimony attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. have been helping people navigate the legal system with regard to alimony, child support, and other issues for many years. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.
More blog posts:
Modification of Alimony and Retroactive Application in Florida, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Aug. 16, 2017
Florida Appeals Court Reverses Alimony Award for Failing to Provide for Wife’s Needs, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Jan. 27, 2016