Does a Divorce Case End with a Spouse’s Death?

treesIn very rare cases, one of the spouses in a divorce may pass away before the case can be completed. What happens then? Are they divorced or married? Does the surviving spouse inherit from the deceased spouse? These are complex questions. In Arizona, if a spouse dies before the divorce is completed in most situations the couple is not divorced. Any orders that were put in place by the divorce are legally binding though, so if the court ordered spousal or child support and it was not paid, those orders are enforceable against the estate of the deceased. If all of the issues in the divorce were resolved or agreed to however, but not formalized at the time of death, the divorce may be implemented after the death by court order.

If the divorce is ended by the death of the spouse, the surviving spouse has the right to inheritance under the will if there is one, or under state intestacy laws, which grant a set percentage to a surviving spouse. The surviving spouse is considered next of kin for decisions involving organ donation, burial, cremation, and funeral services.  Note that although this is the way the law is applied, in these types of situations it common for the spouse to work with or hand over the decisions to other family members such as children or siblings.

If your spouse dies during the divorce, you will need to consult with your attorney about how to proceed with both the divorce matter and the estate case.

The Sampair Group provides experienced divorce representation in the Mesa, Phoenix, and Glendale areas of Arizona. Our attorneys are prepared to help you through any issues you may face as you move through your divorce. Call us now so we can help you.