Death and Divorce: What Happens if Your Soon-to-be Ex Suddenly Dies?

a woman crying while holding her wedding ringWondering what would happen to your divorce case if your not-quite-ex-spouse suddenly dies before the court issues the final divorce decree? In the state of Colorado, your divorce case won’t survive the death of your spouse. This means that the case ends when your spouse dies since his or her death automatically voids your marriage, so the court would have no “marriage” to end.

What about the divorce issues?

Divorce issues include division of property, child custody and support, as well as spousal support. With property settlements, you would inherit whatever your spouse indicated in her or his will. Otherwise, you would inherit all or most of your spouse’s property. If you co-own a property with your spouse, that would automatically become yours.

With this in mind, if you want to limit the amount of property or assets that your spouse could inherit if you suddenly die while getting divorced, you need to do estate planning as soon as possible, advises a renowned divorce attorney from Lewis & Matthews, P.C. in Eagle County.

Also, if your children are still very young, or if you’re receiving temporary spousal support, or you have joint outstanding debt, consider taking out a life insurance policy for your soon-to-be-ex-spouse before your divorce being finalized.

Do note, however, that while Colorado statutes indicate that a divorce case ends if one of the spouses passes away, the court would still address child custody issues. This is particularly true if there are minor children involved and if the surviving spouse isn’t fit to get custody or is unwilling to care for the children.

Other relevant things to consider

Once you receive your final divorce decree, you must preferably do your estate planning, or tweak your plan if you already have one, to prepare for you and your ex-spouse’s death. Modify your life insurance policy, pension plan, and retirement plan beneficiaries. Don’t forget to go over your will and other relevant documents.

You should also be aware that if your ex-lover dies while he or she is paying spousal support, you’d also stop receiving payments. On the other hand, your ex’s child support payments must continue since you could get what you’re owed from your ex’s estate.