Topic 5: Health and Life Insurance

Hi there

In today’s political climate the next item, health insurance, is somewhat challenging to consider.

There should be provisions in all agreements, for both health insurance coverage and for how you will handle the uninsured medical expenses for both yourselves and your children.

Generally this is first an economic and a health consideration; Who has the best insurance at the best price? If there are children then the cost of insurance is covered in the child support guidelines.  The guidelines provide that the custodial parent pays for the first $250 of uninsured expenses for the children, then the parents share the remainder annually.  Generally it is best to spell out what is intended to be covered; medical expenses, dental expenses and counseling expenses, then list what future expenses need to be discussed before they are incurred; there can be a different split of the cost of large ticket items, such as orthodontia as well.

Massachusetts has a provision in its laws that requires health insurance companies with some exceptions to provide post divorce insurance for the spouse of the insured.   This is great unless the insured spouse is employed by a company that is a self insurer (Microsoft) or works for the government, in which case the spouse will have to obtain their own insurance. The issue of who pays for this and how the payment is to be characterized, as alimony or not is the subject generally of negotiation, often intense.

Life insurance should be part of any agreement where one there are children or where one side has a support obligation to the other side.  The purpose of life insurance in a divorcing family is exactly the same as it would be in an intact one. It is to replace the stream of income that would be lost should one party die, or to fund the obligations to pay in the future that one party has for the benefit of the other or for the benefit of the children. I am not a proponent of whole life insurance and particularly not in a divorce situation where the obligation is limited. If you shop around there is some very reasonable term life insurance available.

You will need to consider: duration, amount , beneficiaries, proof of insurance, how does one party determine that the insurance is in effect, as well as a logical relationship of the insurance to your obligations.




  1. I am divorced and disabled and receiving alimony. Without my alimony I would be in dire financial situation and would like to know if I could get life insurance on ex-spouse. Is this something that he would have to agree to or would I be able to get it without him knowing and pay for it on my own. Do I have to legally tell him, and would it affect my alimony. What steps would I have to take to proceed?

  2. Hi there,
    That is a terrible situation. I do not know if you are in Massachusetts and my answer applies to Massachusetts only. You should have insurance on his life, you can’t get it without his agreement or a Court Order. To obtain the latter you would need to be able to modify your divorce agreement. Go to the Probate Court with your agreement and ask to speak to the Lawyer of the Day, call first to determine which days there will be someone available to help you.
    Good luck
    This Blog/Web Site and email response is made available by Attorney Nancy R. Van Tine and Burns & Levinson LLP for educational purposes only – i.e. to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice in relation to any situation you or anyone else may have. There is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher, Attorney Nancy R. Van Tine or Burns & Levinson LLP. The information on this Blog/Web Site and email response should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state engaged by you for such purpose.

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