Issue: What is the remedy when a spouse violates the automatic injunction resulting from a divorce petition?
Facts: Shortly after a divorce was filed, Wife changed her life insurance beneficiary from Husband to her mother, in violation of the automatic injunction pursuant to TCA 36-4-106(d)(2). Wife died shortly thereafter, and her mother then petitioned for visitation of the minor children.
Appellate Decision: The intermediate court held that Wife did violate the automatic injunction, but wrote that the existing law is unsettled as to appropriate remedy. The court held that the beneficiary change was “voidable” (rather than void) depending on the equities of the case. The court found the equities weighed in favor of returning beneficiary status to Husband because he assumed all marital debts that otherwise would have been divided from the divorce. Regarding grandparent visitation, the court held there was no evidence to show Husband had opposed visitation during the relevant period (the court suggested that the grandparent had filed her request prematurely).
Review Granted: March 9, 2017.
Prediction: Ben thinks the Supreme Court will affirm.