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Can creditors go after my wife's non-community property asset for my own discharged community debt under chapter 7 ?

San Francisco, CA |

In 2003, My wife bought a home together with her father before I met her, it has around 240000 equity currently. We got married in 2005, and I recently filed chapter 7 on my own for community debts. Can creditors go after her home equity that is co-owned with her dad for my own discharged debt?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. This will be left best to a local bankruptcy attorney. There are a lot of moving parts that will make that determination. Since 2005, changes in equity could actually now be community property. This is why you need to speak an experienced and qualified bankruptcy attorney in the area. This is trickier than it may sound.


  2. People think lawyers are expensive. Not having a lawyer can be more expensive.

    You recently filed bankruptcy while your wife owns a house with a quarter-million dollars of equity. Chapter 7 is liquidation. People really do lose things in bankruptcy. Once the case has begun, it'll be very difficult to get out of it, for exactly the same reasons you will want to get out of it. The facts - backed up by documentary evidence - will establish whether you have a community interest in your wife's home or not. There is not enough information here for me to play judge and tell you how this will all play out, but seven years of payments paid, seven years of real estate taxes paid, seven years of repairs and maintenance paid, all from community funds makes this far less clear-cut than you might think.

    While it's not the answer you want to hear, can creditors go after her home equity? Short answer: yes. Can you stave them off? Maybe.

    This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and I. I am not your attorney unless we both sign a written contract that describes our relationship and terms of the representation. Any information provided to you here is not a substitute for the advice you need to pursue any legal matter. I advise you to retain the services of a local attorney before taking any legal action in this matter.


  3. I sure hope you didn't file this case on your own. If not then I assume your attorney advised you prior to filing. If you did then you may need to hire someone.

    This answer does not create an attorney client relationship between you and I. I am not your attorney unless we both sign a written contract that describes our relationship and terms of the representation. Any information provided to you here is not a substitute for the advice you need to pursue any legal matter. I advise you to retain the services of a local attorney before taking any legal action in this matter.


  4. The Bankruptcy Code does NOT define property. The property rights depends on the state you are in and other non-bankruptcy law. LOOK UP: Butner v. U.S., 440 U.S. 48 (1979)
    But ALL Community property is included in the property of the estate ( an estate is created right after filing a bankruptcy petition) even when only you have filed the petition. So the issue here is whether you have any interest in that property. Your interest in the property would be the property of the estate.
    I hope this helps.

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