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Don't I Get Half of My Ex's Life Insurance Policy?

Georgia residents may find that their life insurance policies are treated differently than other assets as their marriage is dissolved. During divorce, a judge may order a couple to split the value of checking accounts, saving accounts, CDs, annuities, retirement accounts and insurance policies. However, the type of insurance policy involved typically affects each spouse's respective share in the insurance policy itself.

A permanent life insurance policy, or whole life insurance, usually has some amount of value. For this reason, a permanent life insurance policy's value is often split between both spouses. However, because a term life insurance policy has no cash value most of the time until the insured dies, this type of insurance policy is usually not split among the couple. Additionally, an insured individual can usually change his or her beneficiary. When couples divorce, individuals often change the beneficiary of their insurance and other financial accounts. They may change the beneficiary to a parent, child or friend, as they have this right as the owner of the policy. The owner retains the right to change beneficiaries because he or she pays the premium and exercises control over the policy.

In some cases, a couple may be able to agree to keep term life insurance intact. For example, if a couple has minor children, one of the spouses may keep the beneficiary as is in case the insured dies. This step would allow the surviving spouse to have additional funds available to help support the children. In other cases, the spouse may be willing to transfer ownership of the life insurance policy and the requirement to make premiums to the other spouse to keep the insurance contract in force.

Property division can be a confusing process during divorce. Many individuals retain the services of independent legal counsel from Georgia family law attorneys to learn about their rights to certain assets.

Source: Fox Business, "Don", Jack Hungelmann, May 06, 2013

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