Understanding whether divorce cuts off life insurance benefits is a complex question. There are many questions that we must ask you to start of the process of ascertaining whether your life insurance benefits have been cut off by divorce. You may have spoken to a life insurance lawyer previously who has told you that you cannot collect life insurance benefits as they were cut off by divorce. There are many inexperienced lawyers out there with only a couple years experience trying to pass themselves off as life insurance attorneys, and they typically do their clients more harm than good. You should find a life insurance lawyer with a minimum of 10 years experience, so you have a fighting chance of recovering the money to which you are entitled by law.
One issue is whether there was a revocable or irrevocable life insurance beneficiary designation. Frequently, the final order of divorce incorporates a QDRO (qualified domestic relations order) that spells out the rights of both spouses. Another issue is in what state the life insurance policy was issued, as the state law may be a factor in determining rights to life insurance benefits. A big issue which many lawyers overlook is whether the policy was private or from an employer. If from an employer, the policy may be governed by ERISA that trumps state law. There may be an issue with respect to community property that must be investigated.
Life insurance companies frequently make their denial decision based on an old statute that is not valid, and most of the adjusters have no idea of the many intricacies involved in determining whether divorce cuts off life insurance benefits. There are many times when the insurance company will file an interpleader, and let both beneficiaries fight it out. Both may have some right to the benefits.
The bottom line here is that you may be entitled to benefits, whether you are the current spouse or the ex-spouse. Retaining an experienced life insurance lawyer with at least 10 years experience is key, otherwise, forget about getting the benefits to which you are entitled.