An appellate court in Georgia, reversing a trial court’s decision, has ruled that an ex-husband’s obligation pursuant to a divorce decree to maintain life insurance on his life for a dozen years for the benefit of his ex-wife was terminable upon his ex-wife’s remarriage because it was “periodic alimony” and not a division of property.
George White and Vanessa Howard were divorced after 35 years of marriage. Among other things, the final divorce decree required that Mr. White obtain a term life insurance policy in the amount of $100,000 that named Ms. Howard as the beneficiary, and required that he keep the policy in effect for 12 years. The decree also recited that neither party was entitled to alimony and that “the transfers contained herein are intended to constitute … an equitable division of property and such transfers are not alimony.”
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Several years later, Ms. Howard remarried. Mr. White asked the court to terminate his life insurance obligation, contending that it was a form of alimony that expired upon Ms. Howard’s remarriage. Ms. Howard moved to dismiss.
The trial court granted Ms. Howard’s motion, concluding that the life insurance obligation was an equitable division of property rather than alimony and, in particular, that the life insurance requirement was “a fixed obligation because it is set for a definite period of time and is not terminable by operation of law and is therefore not subject to modification” as periodic alimony.
Mr. White appealed.
Georgia law defines:
an allowance out of one [marital] party’s estate, made for the support of the other party when living separately.