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Life Insurance and Child Support in Georgia

Georgia law specifies exactly how child support is to be determined. There is a specific calculation that considers gross income, health insurance premiums, and extracurricular activities (among other things) to determine the noncustodial parent’s child support obligation. But what happens if one parent passes away before the children reach the age of majority? Georgia law addresses this issue by allowing for a life insurance provision in the child support order.

Specifically, in any Georgia child support case, “the court may include in the order of support provision for life insurance on the life of either parent or the lives of both parents for the benefit of the minor children. The court may order either parent or both parents to obtain and maintain the life insurance.” OCGA §19-6-34(a). The order for child support “shall not require maintenance of life insurance for a child’s benefit after the child reaches the age of majority and shall not require that the proceeds of life insurance be available for the benefit of a child after the child reaches the age of majority.” OCGA §19-6-34(c). However, the court “may direct either or both parents to maintain life insurance for the benefit of a child who has not previously married or become emancipated, who is enrolled in and attending a secondary school, and who has attained the age of majority before completing his or her secondary school education, provided that maintenance of such life insurance for the benefit of the child shall not be required after a child attains 20 years of age.”OCGA §19-6-34(d).

The purpose of maintaining a life insurance policy is to cover a parent’s child support obligation in the event of that parent’s untimely death. If the parent who passes away were the child support payor, the policy would, presumably, cover the remaining child support obligation. If the parent who passes away were the custodial parent receiving the child support, this would also cover the remaining child support obligation, as the other parent would then become the custodial parent.

Often, divorce settlement agreements include a clause requiring both parents to maintain a life insurance policy of a specified amount listing the children as beneficiaries of that policy and the former spouse as Trustee of the insurance proceeds. Georgia law specifically allows parents “to enter into an agreement for the provision of life insurance that differs from or exceeds” the terms of the law. OCGA §19-6-34(e). Thus, parents can negotiate for whatever life insurance terms they desire, and include those terms in a settlement agreement.

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