Michigan law provides that every Judgment of Divorce must contain a provision that deals with the rights of the parties to the proceeds of life insurance policies. Usually, the judgment extinguishes each party's right in insurance policies on the other party's life.
What happens, though if a party forgets to change the name of the beneficiary? Many life insurance policies are provided by employers. All employee benefits like this, including life insurance and pensions, are governed by federal law, specifically ERISA.
In a published decision on April 28, 2005, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that this was not a question of ERISA preemption, but that it was a question of waiver. In other words, while federal law might mandate that the life insurance proceeds be paid over to the former spouse, ERISA did not mandate that, once received, the proceeds could be retained by the ex-wife. Because she had waived her right to the monies in the Judgment, the Court of Appeals held that she could not keep them.
Moore v Moore, 266 Mich. App. 96, 700 N.W.2d 414 (Mich. App., 2005) Download Moore v Moore
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