What if we don’t tell my health insurance company that we got divorced? Then, both of you, the named insured and his or her former spouse, act at your peril.

Consider, the 2021 decision of New York County Supreme Court Justice Louis L. Nock in Alston v. Golfo (2021). Salvatore Golfo was a member of Teamsters Local 272. In July, 2018, Mr. Alston, as Trustee of the Local 272 Welfare Fund, commenced an action against both Mr. Golfo and his former wife, Denise, to recover the $77,317.43 that was paid out by the Fund for Denise’s healthcare expenses from 2011 through 2018, after their 2007 divorce. Contrary to Salvatore’s inaccurate insurance plan enrollment form submission in 2011, Denise was not then his spouse. She was not eligible to be covered.

In his defense, Salvatore also asserted a claim against his former wife to be indemnified. He also made that claim against Denise’s father, Joseph Mattesi (“Mattesi”), another one of the Fund’s trustees, alleging that his former father-in-law acquiesced in Salvatore’s submission of the inaccurate enrollment form. Salvatore also claimed that Denise had caused Salvatore to innocently believe that she was still his spouse, despite the 2007 Judgment of Divorce.


Continue Reading What if We Keep Our Divorce Secret from Our Health Insurance Company?

With litigation so expensive, what claims between former spouses may be heard in small claims court?

In this small claims action, the former wife sought to recover $2,500 from her former husband because he allegedly wrongful retained health insurance reimbursement checks. The wife alleged that she, rather than the ex-husband, had paid the sums to her health providers for which the ex-husband had been reimbursed.

The ex-husband moved to dismiss the small claims action, claiming that the ex-wife’s claims were within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and Family Court. In addition, the ex-husband claimed that, based on the Supreme Court judgment in the parties’ matrimonial action, the ex-wife, whose two prior small claims actions had been dismissed, was precluded from bringing this action under the doctrine of res judicata.

In an order dated November 6, 2015, Nassau County District Court Judge Paul L. Meli, granted the ex-husband’s motion to dismiss this action, concluding that small claims court lacked jurisdiction and that the matter in issue had, in any event, been previously litigated.


Continue Reading Small Claims Court Has Jurisdiction to Determine Claim Between Former Spouses

Gavel main.jpgThe rule of law discussed by Monroe County Supreme Court Justice Richard A. Dollinger in Lomaglio v. Lomaglio is undoubtedly correct. An ex-husband may not be required to provide health insurance beyond the period he is required to pay his ex-wife maintenance. The question is was he allowed to correctly apply the law?

With allusions to Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, Justice Dollinger answered his own question:

When does a trial court judge get to review or opine, expand upon or possibly modify an appellate division ruling? Answer: “hardly ever.”

Domestic Relations Law §236B(8) is straightforward enough. A divorcing spouse may not be required to provide health insurance beyond the support period:

8. Special relief in matrimonial actions. a. In any matrimonial action the court may order a party to purchase, maintain or assign a policy of insurance providing benefits for health and hospital care and related services for either spouse or children of the marriage not to exceed such period of time as such party shall be obligated to provide maintenance, child support or make payments of a distributive award.

So why is Justice Dollinger’s just-published February, 2012 opinion implementing this provision front page news (New York Law Journal 5/21/2012)? It is because 12 years ago, the Appellate Division Fourth Department appears to have held that Mr. Lomaglio would be obligated to provide health insurance to his ex-wife, permanently, although the 18-month period for which he was obligated to provide maintenance to his ex-wife had expired.


Continue Reading Did Judge Overrule the Appellate Division to Hold Ex-Husband May Not Be Required to Provide Health Insurance Beyond Period He Is Required to Pay Support to Ex-Wife?