Are Court Ordered Divorce Attorney Fees dis-chargable under Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Asked about 3 years ago - Miami Beach, FL

If ordered to pay spouses attorney's fees in a divorce, are they dis-chargable under Chapter 13?
Conflicting information includes that Maria D. Lopez Case No. 08-18101-BKC-LMI (Bankr. S.D. Fla, April 17, 2009 the Bankruptcy Court held that the involved attorney fees were not entitled to priority status as a "domestic support obligation". unless it meets all the requirements of section 101 (14a) of the Bankruptcy Code. The Court rejected the claimant's argument that the attorney fees met the requirement of being "in the nature of alimony, maintenance or support" as they related to custody, parentage, or visitation. The Court noted that the determination of what constitutes "support" is a matter of federal law. The Court further noted that in determining whether an award of state court ...

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Eric Charles Lewis

    Contributor Level 17

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Generally, if the award is not in the nature of a domestic support obligation, it is dischargable, and attorney fee awards are often, if not always, deemed dischargable.

    Advice on this forum is for informational purposes only and should never be mistaken as a substitute for legal... more
  2. Gary D. Bollinger

    Contributor Level 19

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Wow! I went to look for a question to answer on this forum & I thought Avvo had mistakenly placed a lawyer's answer first.

    Two points:
    1. "Priority" establishes the order of disbursement by the Trustee from collected funds paid into the plan.

    2. "Dischargeability" is governed by the discharge statute under the relevant chapter of Title 11, for example, see section 1328.

  3. Mitchell Paul Goldstein

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . I would say look at 11 USC 523(a)(15); it covers debts owed to a spouse incurred in the course of a divorce. This type of debt is not dischargeable in a Chapter 7 case, but it is in a Chapter 13 case. If it is awarded in the nature of support, then it is not dischargeable in either case.

    Mr. Goldstein is a Virginia-licensed attorney only. The information is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.... more
  4. Theodore Lyons Araujo

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Maybe. If they are awarded as part of the "order of support" then they are not dischaargeable. if they are part of the property settlement they could be discharged in a 13.

    Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the States of New York, New Jersey and... more

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