Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Divorce Attorney: Pension and Life Insurance Benefits Agreement Enforced Post Judgment

I recently received a much awaited decision on one of my cases in the Suffolk County Supreme Court in a post-judgment matrimonial matter.  In this case, the stipulation of settlement in the prior divorce had provided for certain rights regarding one of the parties' pension and life insurance proceeds. That spouse, however, then made his second wife the beneficiary, who received the proceeds upon his death.  The first wife and children moved to enforce their rights, and the Court found:

Separation agreements purporting to equitably assign pension benefits should be given the same protection as Court Ordered benefits... a Separation Agreement expressly distributing pension benefits as marital property pursuant to the Equitable Distribution Law is enforceable...
Similarly, the court found:
A promise in a separation agreement to maintain an insurance policy designating a spouse as beneficiary vests in the spouse an equitable interest in the policy specified, and that spouse will prevail over a person in whose favor the decedent executed a gratuitous change in beneficiary...
The full decision can be read here.   

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