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