The Fourth Division of New York’s Appellate Court has recently held that an ex-spouse must continue to pay his ex-wife’s health insurance premium for an unfixed period of time, as reported by the New York Law Journal in a March 21, 2013 news article. This court ruled this way because the ex- husband’s prior court order to pay spousal support had ceased.

This decision contradicts the decision of the lower court and New York’s Domestic Relations Law § 236(B)(8)(a), which states that an ex-spouse does not have the duty to ensure that his or her ex-spouse has insurance. This duty ends once the party’s burden of paying spousal support or a lump sum of money over time ends. In this case the divorce decree provided that the ex-husband shall pay spousal maintenance to his ex-wife for about eighteen months and health insurance was not mentioned at all. However this decision by the lower court was overturned when the appellate court ordered him to pay the health insurance premiums and did not specify a time period as to how long he will have to pay them.

Today, this order is effective because the ex-husband has not appealed the decision instead he chose to bring a separate cause of action in the trial court which is not procedurally correct. Since the decision of the Appellate Court was not challenged, the court cannot decide whether or not its decision is correct or not and it cannot change it. Thus the ex-husband is prohibited  from arguing the Appellate Court’s decision due to collateral estoppel which means the issue is prevented from being re-litigated.

If you are considering divorce or if you are seeking spousal support or child support or custody, then you should contact an experienced attorney. Jayson Lutzky has been practicing law for over 30 years in the State of New York. He has helped thousands of clients over the years and can provide you with the information that you need in a free in person consultation in his Bronx, NY office. To set up a consultation call his office at 718-514-6619 or visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com.