VT: Court May Enforce Temporary Order Entered Before A Spouse’s Death

In some states, including Florida, if one spouse dies during a divorce action but before the divorce is final, the divorce grinds to a halt and the case is generally dismissed.

Does that mean that everything the court has done along the way is out the window and forgotten?

In a recent Vermont case, a divorce court ordered a temporary freeze on marital assets during the case.

That’s not uncommon, usually to protect one spouse from the other spouse siphoning off, mismanaging or dissipating marital assets.

Despite the order, the husband changed the designated beneficiary on his life insurance policy from his wife to other relatives of his. And died.

When the wife moved to enforce the court’s temporary order, the trial court ruled that it no longer had jurisdiction to enforce its prior order. And the wife appealed.

The state’s highest court reversed, holding that, since the order was valid when it was entered, the court still had the power to enforce it now. And equity demanded that outcome.

Read more in this Lawyers USA article: Vermont Supreme Court finds family court retains jurisdiction despite death before divorce.