If the proceeds for a fire claim was sent to an ex-spouse, who will now not release them, what can be done?

My friend was divorced 9 years ago and he didn’t take his ex wife off his insurance policy. Recently his house caught fire and his insurance company sent his check to his ex-wife and now she won’t give it to him. It’s for fixing his house after the fire. Is there anything he can do to get his money from her?

Asked on February 8, 2016 under Insurance Law, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the divorce decree or agreement made it clear that the house is his and she has no interest in it, he may be able to sue for her for the proceeds, on ground that under the decree or agreement, she has no interest in or right to the fire insurance. The suit will be based on the language and terms of the decree or settlement, and the clearer it is that she has *no* interest in the home, the better his chances. 

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