Alabama Civil Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Bradford Ladner LLP Client in Civil Appeal over Insurance Annuity Proceeds

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals issued an opinion in Kowalski v. Upchurch on July 17, 2015 in which the Alabama Civil Appeals Court reversed the Jefferson County Circuit Court’s ruling awarding the surviving son the proceeds from an insurance annuity over the claim of the ex-husband who was still listed as the beneficiary on the policy.

In this Alabama civil appeal case, the former wife died two years after the divorce was final. The divorce judgment contained language stating that the husband gave up any interest in “insurance policies.”  However, the ex-wife never removed the husband as the beneficiary on the policy.  The surviving son of the Wife was listed as a secondary beneficiary.  After the woman’s death, both ex-husband and the son made claims on the insurance annuity money.  The insurance company filed a lawsuit asking the Court to decide who should get the money.

The Jefferson County Alabama Circuit Court ruled that the reference in the divorce judgment to the ex-husband giving up his interest in “insurance policies” was specific enough to override the beneficiary provision in the policy.  Bradford was retained as appellate counsel after the adverse judgment in the Circuit Court to file a civil appeal.  An appeal was filed arguing that Alabama Law required much more specific language in the divorce judgment in order to override the naming of a beneficiary.

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals agreed, and issued an Opinion on July 17, 2015 reversing the judgment of the circuit court and remanding the case back for the Circuit Court to enter a judgment in favor of Bradford’s client, the ex-husband.  The appeals court held that the reference to an insurance policy in a divorce settlement or judgment must be very specific in order to be effective in overriding a listing of an ex-spouse as a beneficiary.

William Robert Kowalski v. Tyler H. Upchurch, Court of Civil Appeals No. 2131059 / CV 13-925

Read the Opinion here


Bradford Ladner LLP. is a Birmingham, Alabama based Appellate and Litigation law firm which represents clients in Criminal Appeals, Civil Appeals, Divorce Appeals, and Post-Conviction Litigation Contact Us For A Free Consultation Local - 205-802-8823 Statewide - 1-855-587-6350