The last thing that might occur to you when you are going through the breakup of your marriage is that your soon-to-be-ex spouse will eventually pass away and that they, like all of us, could die at any time. What arrangements could you make under Nebraska law to protect you and your children from an unexpected interruption of spousal support, also known as alimony?

You may be able to negotiate a marital settlement agreement with your spouse in which you can include creative solutions to this issue that would be good for your family, but that a judge may not consider. If you cannot come to agreement, your attorney can ask the judge to include certain provisions in the divorce decree.

Possible solutions to unforeseen termination of alimony

Under Nebraska law, the court can order one spouse to pay alimony to the other, if reasonable under the circumstances and considering relevant factors. Alimony ends by law if either party dies or the recipient remarries unless the parties agree otherwise in writing or the court orders otherwise. This provision allowing a different outcome by agreement or court order opens the door to protect the recipient spouse in certain situations.

For example, the alimony payor could agree (or the judge could order) to include in the payor’s estate plan a provision that a certain amount of money would go to the recipient from the estate should the payor die while the spouse still has minor children, is disabled or has some other challenge that will make life difficult if alimony ends unexpectedly with the payor’s death.

Another potential answer to the problem of alimony ending prematurely because of the payor’s death would be to require the payor to have a life insurance policy with the recipient as the beneficiary through the date the alimony ends by the terms of the divorce. The payor should be required to provide proof of coverage periodically to the recipient, and the requirement that such proof be published to the former spouse beneficiary will need to be included in the Court’s divorce Decree, and/or property settlement agreement.