Mexican Mail Order Divorce Cases In New York

In Considine v. Rawl, 39 Misc 2d 1021, 242 N.Y.S.2d 456, the decedent's first wife, after his death, sought to have a "Mexican mail order divorce" that she had obtained declared invalid so that she rather than the woman that the decedent had thereafter married would receive certain insurance and civil service retirement benefits. The Considine court, citing Dorn v. Dorn, 202 Misc. 1057, 112 N.Y.S.2d 90, affd. 282 App. Div. 597, 126 N.Y.S.2d 713, held that even though the void Mexican divorce decree would not have estopped the decedent's first wife from commencing a matrimonial proceeding against the decedent while he was alive, the pending action, regardless of its label, was not really a matrimonial action inasmuch as any marriage involving her and the decedent had been terminated by the decedent's death and that she could be estopped from receiving any personal gain from the decedent's insurance or retirement benefits. The doctrine of estoppel is not limited to estoppel by laches. This equitable doctrine may be invoked where: (1) the party to be. estopped has done some act or made some admission with the intention of influencing the conduct of another; (2) the other party changes her position as a result of this conduct or admission; (3) the party who acted or made the admission now seeks to take an inconsistent position (Triple Cities Constr. Co. v. Maryland Cas. 4 N.Y.2d 443, 176 N.Y.S.2d 292, 151 N.E.2d 856, Werking v. Amity Estates, 2 N.Y.2d 43, 155 N.Y.S.2d 633, 137 N.E.2d 321).