Family Law and Bankruptcy Issues Intertwined in a Case Involving Unmarried Parents

        We frequently see clients faced with family law issues in bankruptcy court.  Usually the interplay between family law and bankruptcy law involve married couples, but this blog will discuss that even unmarried couples encounter similar challenges.  If you are dealing with any family law issue and a bankruptcy question arises, it is imperative that you consult with both a family law attorney and a bankruptcy law attorney first before proceeding on your own with either.

        For example, in a recent Middle District of Florida bankruptcy case, the Court dealt with an issue whereby an unmarried couple with a child had a family law issue that arose in bankruptcy court.  Prior to the bankruptcy case, the mother of the child had unilaterally withdrew the child’s college savings account, closed the account and retained the balance.  The father of the child had sued the mother for the amount that she retained and he obtained a judgment against her in state court.  The mother then filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, seeking to have the judgment debt discharged in the bankruptcy case.  The father fought the mother in bankruptcy court, filing an adversary proceeding against the mother seeking to have the judgment debt deemed non-dischargeable, and the Court agreed with the father.  The bankruptcy court held, pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 523 (a)(15), that the principal balance of the judgment debt owed by the Chapter 7 debtor to her minor child arising from her improper use of the monies in the child’s college savings account was non-dischargeable, as nonsupport divorce debt even though the debtor and the child’s father never married and no divorce action was filed.  In addition, the Court held that associated attorneys’ fees, costs and interest were not discharged.  Moreover, the Court held, pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(6), that the judgment debt owed by the Chapter 7 debtor to her minor child was non-dischargeable, as the debtor willfully and maliciously injured the child when she unilaterally withdrew the funds, closed the account and retained the balance.  See, In re Brown, 541 B.R. 906 (Bankr. M.D. Fla. 2015). 

        Thus, when such unique issues arise, a culmination of family law issues and bankruptcy issues, it is important to seek advice from attorneys in those respective areas to understand your rights and alternatives.  There may be options and remedies available to you in the bankruptcy arena, which your family law lawyer may not be aware.  We invite you to contact our firm if you have any bankruptcy questions. 

 The contents of this blog and website are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.  Use of and access to this blog and website do not create an attorney-client relationship between the user and Iurillo Law Group, P.A.

 

 

 

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