What Happens If My Spouse Dies During Our Divorce Case?

Divorce cases can drag out and be exhausting for both parties. You are both ready to move on and start a life of your own. Of course, you never planned for this when you started your marriage – which is proof that we can’t always predict the turns life will take.

That’s exactly why we’re tackling this subject today. In life, we can’t always plan for what comes next and in some divorce cases, a spouse will die before the divorce is finalized by the courts. So, what happens if your spouse dies in the middle of your California divorce case?

Filing for a Dismissal of the Divorce

First, an attorney would need to file for a dismissal of the divorce case based on the death of one of the parties. In California, the courts no longer have jurisdiction over a divorce case if one of the spouses dies. The courts must still be notified of the death and must receive confirmation of your spouse’s death before dismissing the case.

Marital Status Ends at Death

You are no longer considered married to someone once they pass away. This means you will not be required to receive a final judgment from the court in order to move on from your marriage. The case will simply be dismissed.

What Happens to Property?

Even if you had already gone through the process of dividing assets in your divorce, you will now be entitled to the property of your spouse as you will be legally considered a widow as long as the divorce was never finalized. However, if your spouse had an estate plan or the two of you had a prenuptial agreement in place that would move assets to another party then those assets would be distributed according to the details of the estate plan or marital agreement.

What About Your Spouse’s Debts?

With assuming your spouse’s property also comes assuming your spouse’s debts. You will be responsible for the total sum of any marital debts and may also be responsible for some additional debts your spouse had even if you had no personal responsibility for them.

Will I Automatically Have Custody of Our Children?

Unless you had previously lost custody of your children for legal reasons, you will become the sole custodial parent for your children. You will not have to apply or do any additional legal work to gain custody of your children as you already have that legal right as their parent.

At KL Family Law, we have actually dealt with the sad reality of a spouse dying in the middle of a divorce case we were handling. We understand the various risks and changes that can occur in the middle of your California divorce case and will be here for you every step of the way. Contact us and allow us to help you move forward.

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KL Family Law

At KL Family Law, we understand that your primary concern is the well-being of your children. We strive to offer tailored solutions for your family law needs and help you move forward through this difficult transition.

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