What Happens If My Spouse Dies While We’re in the Middle of a Divorce?

What Happens If My Spouse Dies While We’re in the Middle of a Divorce?

Sometimes it feels like the hardest thing to do is file for divorce. But most people do not appreciate the beauty of life and take it for granted. And before you know it, someone close to you will die, and the reality will hit you when you least expect it.

But what happens if you and your spouse decided to divorce, and while the divorce was pending, your spouse suddenly died? What happens to all the assets, the alimony, child support, property division, and child custody? What happens to all the bills, debts and credit that you and your spouse had together?

Here is in detail everything that you need to know about the above-mentioned.

Divorce Stops When a Spouse Dies

Once one of the spouses dies during a divorce, the divorce process stops completely. Instead of being treated as a divorced person, you are now treated as a widow or a widower. It takes two people to get divorced, and suddenly, you are alone in this process. Therefore, everything that you talked about with your spouse before he or she passed away can be crossed off. The process of divorce is terminated instead of finished. Consult with a divorce attorney in Fort Lauderdale and learn everything about your divorce process and what you can and should do next.

The Terms of Divorce

Since your spouse died before your divorce was finalized, you will no longer have to worry about the terms of the divorce. This means the following:

  • The assets: you get to keep all your assets and all the assets that you and your spouse earned or purchased during your marriage. In addition, you may inherit all of your spouse’s separate property, unless they had a Last Will (or Testament) stating otherwise.
  • Marital debts: you become the sole person responsible for any marital debts you and your spouse had during the marriage. Sadly, if your name is on a deed or contract, you will be on the hook for satisfying the agreements.
  • Child custody: since you are the sole surviving parent, you will get full custody of your children and will assume the role of a legal custodial parent. Remember that the parents of your deceased spouse will have the right to visit their grandchildren, or ask the court for visitation rights should you prevent them from seeing their grandchildren. In addition, if they deem you unfit to take care of the children, they may file a petition for custody and take your children away if the petition is successful. Remember to speak with a Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney and learn how you can protect yourself and your children from such an act.
  • Child support / Alimony: even if you had negotiated the child support and/or alimony before your spouse died, everything changes now. Since you inherited all the assets and the custody of the children, you also get to keep your money. On the other hand, you may be able to receive death benefits or a life insurance payout through your spouse’s employer. Again, speak with your attorney to be sure that you are not missing something.