Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Child Custody

Florida child support orders can be secured by a requirement that a parent ordered to pay child support also maintain a life insurance policy with sufficient coverage to protect the award of support. However, before a court can order this, it must make certain findings.

In the case Grasso v. Grasso, 1D18-1479 (Fla. 1st DCA February 18, 2019), the trial court ordered the father to maintain a life insurance policy to secure his child support obligation. The father appealed, arguing the trial court did not make the required findings to support the life insurance award. The appellate court agreed with the father, holding “A trial court is authorized to order a party to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy "to the extent necessary to protect an award of child support." Fla. Stat. § 61.13(1)(c) (2017). A trial court, however, may not do so "without making factual findings regarding the necessity of such coverage." Winney v. Winney, 979 So. 2d 396, 400 (Fla. 1st DCA 2008); Kotlarz v. Kotlarz, 21 So. 3d 892, 893 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009) ("In order to support the life insurance requirement, the trial court must make specific evidentiary findings as to the availability and cost of insurance, the obligor's ability to pay, and the special circumstances that warrant such security."). We agree with the former husband that the trial court did not make the requisite factual findings (a point the former wife does not address in her answer brief), and we are unable to determine whether this error was harmless. Winney, 979 So. 2d at 401. We, therefore, reverse the amended final judgment as to the life insurance policy and remand for a determination supported by specific evidentiary findings in support of the life insurance requirement. Therriault v. Therriault, 102 So. 3d 711, 714 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012).”

What special circumstances may warrant such a security? Perhaps a parent is involved in a dangerous line of work that requires him or her to risk his or her life. In any event, the court must also find that the premium for the insurance is affordable for the paying parent. In many instances in which the paying parent is of advanced age and/or suffering from illness, life insurance may be too costly or even unavailable to a parent.

To determine whether or not life insurance will be required in your Florida child support case, schedule a consultation with a Miami child support lawyer to go over your case. Forming the right plan is the first step to maximizing the results in your case.