An issue that arises in many bankruptcy cases, is whether or not prior attorneys fees can be discharged in bankruptcy. In divorce or family law cases, amounts owed to a spouse or former spouse for child support or spousal maintenance are not dischargeable, and other amounts owed to a spouse or former spouse may be dischargeable only in a Chapter 13, but not a Chapter 7 case.
If an individual is ordered to pay attorneys fees directly to the attorney, in many cases this would be a dischargeable debt. However, a spouse left owing the attorneys fees may be able to challenge the dischargeability of the debt claiming that the debt arose out of a divorce order (and that by allowing the discharge to occur, the other spouse would then be on the hook for the amounts owed). In such cases, the attorneys fees are generally still dischargeable in a Chapter 13 case, but may not be dischargeable in a Chapter 7 case.
If the Order specifically requires payment to the spouse or former spouse, such debts would generally not be dischargeable in a Chapter 7 case, but often dischargeable under a Chapter 13 case.
If you are involved in a case in which you are seeking to discharge money owed to a spouse or former spouse or their attorney, or if you are trying to enforce payment of funds owed to you or your attorney by a spouse or former spouse, please contact McGuire Gardner at 800 899-2730 or visit us at www.mcguiregardner.com for more information.