New York DRL Section 236(B)(8)(a) - Interpretation

DRL 236(B)(8)(a) provides, in relevant part, that: 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. . . . The obligation to provide such insurance shall cease upon the termination of the spouse's duty to provide maintenance, child support or a distributive award. NY DOM REL. LAW 236(B)(8)(a). In Fischer v. Fischer, 199 AD2d 1028, 606 N.Y.S.2d 494 (4th Dep't 1993), the question of the application of Section 236(B)(8)(a) was not broached. The court held that the husband should pay the wife's health, hospitalization and medical coverage for three years, the exact same period in which the husband had been ordered to pay maintenance. In essence, Fischer v. Fischer, while not mentioning Section 236(B)(8)(a), conforms with its intent: the period of healthcare insurance is coterminous with the period of the maintenance. In McDermott v. McDermott, 119 AD2d 370, 507 N.Y.S.2d 390 (2d Dep't 1986), the Second Department held that it was not an abuse of discretion for the trial court to require the defendant to maintain the existing healthcare coverage or its equivalent for the plaintiff's benefit. The Second Department noted that the term of the maintenance award was three years but, when referring to the term of the health insurance mandate, the court simply stated "under the circumstances, we see no reason to insert a termination date for that obligation." The Second Department made no mention of Section 236(B)(8)(a).