It happened again this week. A guy calls me and tells me he just finished up his divorce and needs a fresh financial start so he can get on with his life. To make a long story short: he’s age 69 and only has $1,600 monthly Social Security income. It’s a tough life.
Sure, I understand. Makes perfect sense to me.
But here’s what I had to tell this man …
You Can’t Discharge Debts From A Divorce In A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy Code 523(a)(15) says that any debt incurred to a spouse or former spouse in connection with a divorce or separation agreement and made a part of a court judgment is non dischargeable.
And, of course, you can’t discharge past due domestic support obligations. That’s things like court ordered spousal support and child support. Section 523(a)(5) excludes discharge of virtually all domestic support obligations.
When you combine 523(a)(5) with 523(a)(15) you find that nearly all domestic relations obligations (whether for financial support or for a property division) are now excluded from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge if they were incurred in connection with divorce or separation and placed in a court judgment.
Are There Any Exceptions To This Rule?
(We attorneys sit around all day long and try to figure out loopholes to existing laws.)
Yeah, but no “life-savers”.
First, 523(a) (15) doesn’t apply where no divorce or separation has taken place or was not in progress when the bankruptcy was filed.
Second, 523(a)(15) applies only to Chapter 7 bankruptcies.
So What Can I Do?
You’re pretty much confined to filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Section 1328(a) allows these divorce debts to be discharged in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Let’s talk about this and see what we can do about your specific situation.
Perhaps you have some questions. You can reach my by phone at 760-523-9090. Or just click on the ORANGE “Contact Me” button at the top of your screen. I’ll contact you back and make arrangements to meet with you.
Talk with me. I’ll treat you like a friend.