Life Insurance Policies in Family Law

Case Study for Life Insurance Policies

In the family law case of Bain (No. 3) [2013] FamCA 970, one of the issues the Court considered was whether it should grant the Wife’s application for an interim order that the Husband transfer his ownership of a policy which insured the Wife’s life. In this instance, the Wife was terminally ill.  The Wife’s application was dismissed, with the Court accepting (amongst other reasons) the Husband’s contention that such an order and the resulting assignment would prevent the proceeds of the policy being used to reduce marital debt if the Wife passed away before trial.

However, there have been other cases where the Court did grant orders for one party to transfer an “interest” in a life insurance policy to the other party, thereby arguably treating the policy as “property”. Such orders were made in Phillips & Phillips [2002] FamCA 350 and Pethridge & Pethridge [2008] FamCA 775.

These cases arguably demonstrate that the purpose of the life insurance policy will be relevant and that any order made must be “just and equitable”.

Please note this is not family law advice. It is important to seek specific family law advice from a very experienced family lawyer.