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Thursday, July 23, 2009

DRL 177 Repealed and Replaced By DRL 255

Domestic Relations Law § 177 has been repealed, and replaced by Domestic Relations Law § 255, which was signed into law on July 11, 2009. It becomes effective 90 days after the date it was signed into law and applies to all actions in which judgment has not been entered as of the effective date. (See Laws of 2009, Ch 143)

Domestic Relations Law § 255, subdivision 1 provides that prior to signing a judgment of divorce or separation, or a judgment annulling a marriage or declaring the nullity of a void marriage, the court must ensure that both parties have been notified, at such time and by such means as the court determines, that once the judgment is signed, a party thereto may or may not be eligible to be covered under the other party's health insurance plan, depending on the terms of the plan. In the case of a defaulting defendant, service upon the defendant, simultaneous with the service of the summons, of a notice indicating that once the judgment is signed, a party thereto may or may not be eligible to be covered under the other party's health insurance plan, depending on the terms of the plan, shall be deemed sufficient notice to a defaulting defendant. (Go to http://www.nysdivorce.com to download a suggested Notice of Possible Loss of Eligibility For Health Care Coverage)

Domestic Relations Law § 255, subdivision 2 provides that if the parties have entered into a stipulation of settlement or agreement, on or after the effective date of Section 255, resolving all of the issues between the parties, the stipulation of settlement or agreement must contain a provision relating to the health care coverage of each party. The provision must either: (a) provide for the future coverage of each party, or (b) state that each party is aware that he or she will no longer be covered by the other party's health insurance plan and that each party shall be responsible for his or her own health insurance coverage, and may be entitled to purchase health insurance on his or her own through a COBRA option, if available. The requirements subdivision 2 may not be waived by either party or counsel. In the event that it is not complied with, the court must require compliance and may grant a thirty day continuance to afford the parties an opportunity to procure their own health insurance coverage. (Go to http://www.nysdivorce.com to download a suggested Agreement-Stipulation Provision for Compliance with Domestic Relations Law § 255)

Automatic Restraining Orders

Domestic Relations Law 236 [B] [2] was amended, by Laws of 2009, Chapter 72, § 1, effective September 1, 2009, to add a subdivision b, which provides for automatic restraining orders that come into effect upon the commencement of a matrimonial action and bind both parties.

Domestic Relations Law § 236 (B) (2) (b) provides that the plaintiff shall cause to be served upon the defendant, simultaneous with the service of the summons, a copy of the automatic orders set forth in subdivision (b). This paragraph places upon the plaintiff a duty to serve upon the defendant automatic orders which bind both parties. The automatic orders are binding upon the plaintiff upon the commencement of the action by the filing of the summons or summons and complaint. They are binding upon the defendant upon service of the Summons or ‘Summons and Complaint. The automatic orders remain in full force and effect during the pendency of the action, unless terminated, modified or amended by further order of the court, upon motion of either of the parties, or upon written agreement between the parties duly executed and acknowledged. The automatic orders are as follows: (1) Neither party shall sell, transfer, encumber, conceal, assign, remove or in any way dispose of, without the consent of the other party in writing, or by order of the court, any property (including, but not limited to, real estate, personal property, cash accounts, stocks, mutual funds, bank accounts, cars and boats) individually or jointly held by the parties, except in the usual course of business, for customary and usual household expenses or for reasonable attorney's fees in connection with this action.(2) Neither party shall transfer, encumber, assign, remove, withdraw or in any way dispose of any tax deferred funds, stocks or other assets held in any individual retirement accounts, 401K accounts, profit sharing plans, Keough accounts, or any other pension or retirement account, and the parties shall further refrain from applying for or requesting the payment of retirement benefits or annuity payments of any kind, without the consent of the other party in writing, or upon further order of the court. (3) Neither party shall incur unreasonable debts hereafter, including, but not limited to further borrowing against any credit line secured by the family residence, further encumbrancing any assets, or unreasonably using credit cards or cash advances against credit cards, except in the usual course of business or for customary or usual household expenses, or for reasonable attorney's fees in connection with this action. (4) Neither party shall cause the other party or the children of the marriage to be removed from any existing medical, hospital and dental insurance coverage, and each party shall maintain the existing medical hospital and dental insurance coverage in full force and effect. (5) Neither party shall change the beneficiaries of any existing life insurance policies, and each party shall maintain the existing life insurance, automobile insurance, homeowners and renters insurance policies in full force and effect. (Go to http://www.nysdivorce.com to download a suggested form notice of automatic restraining orders)