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As a general rule, an award of alimony ends upon the death of the paying ex-spouse (typically, the ex-husband). This could result in the recipient (typically, the ex-wife) losing the financial lifeline of those monthly payments. Florida law permits the divorce court to enter an order requiring the paying spouse to secure the award of alimony with a policy of life insurance sufficient to cover the loss in the event of the paying spouse’s death.

But what does the law require the recipient to show the court in order to receive the additional award of life insurance? The statute and case law make it abundantly clear.  Chapter 61.08(3), Florida Statutes, allows the court to require the paying ex-spouse to purchase or maintain a policy of life insurance “only when there is a demonstrated need to protect” the recipient. For example, in the recent Florida appellate case,  Kvinta v. Kvinta, the appellate court said that a proper showing would be “where [one spouse] would be left in dire economic straits upon the death of the  [paying spouse].” As a further example, the case said that life insurance should be ordered only when “the recipient spouse is disabled, elderly, or has such limited employment skills that the death of the former spouse would cause the survivor to be dependent upon welfare or the generosity of others.” Courts are also required to apply the statutory test to the request  for life insurance, which consists of the following: A finding by the court of a need for the insurance (for example, the list of considerations above), the cost and availability of such insurance (that is, is the paying spouse even insurable?), and the financial impact of having to purchase such insurance.

So, life insurance to secure an award of alimony is certainly available. But the groundwork must be laid by the party receiving the alimony in order to convince the court that life insurance is appropriate. Make sure your lawyer does the homework!

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