I (plaintiff) filed for divorce from my son's mother 9 months ago. Recently I had to file chapter 7 due to loss of income about 6 months ago - currently receiving unemployment. I went to the 341 hearing last week. My question is....as part of wife's (defendant) attorney response to my divorce filing she requested that the judge compel me to pay her attorney fees. That's I the plaintiff pay the defendant attorney's fees because she was not working during the marriage and is still not working. I didn't include this in my chapter 7 because I don't know if the judge will award it or what the amount might be. If judge aware it will it be assumed discharged since I was not aware of it or do I have to pay it post bk7? The case is ongoing...again do I pay attorney fees I don't know?
Thanks to you all. My question have been answered. I wish there was a way to mark question resolved/closed.
Money owed to a spouse pursuant to a domestic relations order (including a divorce) would be a non-dischargeable debt in your case. If the money is owed to her attorney, but would be owed by her if you did not pay, could and probably will be seen as money owed in the nature of support, which would make it non-dischargeable as well. First, you need to list her as a potential creditor in your bankruptcy case, and make sure to add her attorney as a notice only recipient. You don't need to list her attorney as a creditor right now because there is no court order creating an obligation to them, and adding them may be seen as an admission that you owe them. Further, adding your wife as a creditor and making the judge in the divorce case aware of your bankruptcy may cause them to hesitate to award her attorney's fees because you are insolvent.
Finally, if you don't have an attorney for your bankruptcy case, you need to get one who has experience in divorce as well. There are many issues that could cause you to still owe money after bankruptcy if the language in your divorce is not done correctly, so it is imperative that you deal with them before an order is entered in your divorce case.
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Divorce / Separation Lawyer
First of all get a lawyer. You have commited a felony in omitting a debt in your schedules. That is grounds to jail and fine you, or to dismiss your bankruptcy, or to deny a discharge. The lawyer will amend your schedules and check for other mistakes. As a general rule, the debt is not dischargeable, but as a domestic support obligation there are special reporting requirements.
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First and foremost, your wife (and by extension her attorney) needs to be listed as creditors in your bankruptcy. Moreover, anyone who has or MAY have a claim against you for money or property as of the date that you filed for bankruptcy MUST be listed. Bankruptcy will only deal with debts as of the petition date. Attorneys fees associated with a divorce can be discharged EXCEPT in situations where it can be shown that they amount to a debt associated with an obligation to pay alimony, maintenance or support. I highly suggest you talk to a bankruptcy attorney versed in family law licensed to practice in your district because the timing of your filing will have a direct impact on your divorce proceeding (the state court judge needs to know about the bankruptcy ASAP) and whether the attorneys fees will be discharged or excepted from your discharge through a separate bankruptcy proceeding.
I am only licensed in the state of Illinois. This is only my general observation about the law and my experiences as a practicing attorney. This is not legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice. This does not create an attorney client relationship. If you wish to obtain legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship, then you should directly contact a lawyer licensed in your state who you believe possesses the knowledge and experience to assist you with your case.
Family Law Attorney
You still have several weeks to file an amendment to your bankruptcy petition to add both your wife and her attorney as potential creditors. HOWEVER, this will NOT discharge child or spousal support. Call your attorney NOW.
Be sure to designate "best answer." If you live in Oregon, you may call me for more detailed advice, 503-650-9662. Please be aware that each answer on this website is based upon the facts, or lack thereof, provided in the question. To be sure you get complete and comprehensive answers, based upon the totality of your situation, contact a local attorney who specializes in the area of law that involves your legal problem. Diane L. Gruber has been practicing law in Oregon for 26 years, specializing in family law, bankruptcy, estate planning and probate. Note: Diane L. Gruber does not represent you until a written fee agreement has been signed by you and Diane L. Gruber, and the fee listed in the agreement has been paid.