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

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. 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 advice. If you are in need of legal advice, you should consult local legal counsel.


  2. 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. 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. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. Answering this question does not in any way constitute legal representation. Contacting Mitchell Goldstein or the Goldstein Law Group does not constitute legal representation, nor is any information you provide protected by attorney-client privilege until otherwise advised.


  4. 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 Massachusetts only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to those three States. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship.

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