Virginia Beach, VA asked in Divorce and Bankruptcy for Virginia

Q: 2015 my ex was ordered to pay $5K in equitable distribution, but he never paid and was contempt. He since filed Ch. 7.

He filed Ch. 7 in 2017. We live in VA. Can I take him back to court to enforce the order in the divorce decree?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James H. Wilson Jr.
James H. Wilson Jr.
  • Bankruptcy Lawyer
  • Glen Allen, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: A contempt proceeding for an ED violation may or may not be a violation of the automatic stay in bankruptcy. The question is whether the purpose of the proceeding is to extract a private monetary remedy (not allowed) or to uphold the dignity of the court (allowed). Some have cast this as civil v. criminal contempt, which is not exactly accurate.

The safe approach with a chapter 7 case is to either wait until the automatic stay terminates, or to seek relief from the automatic stay by initiating a Motion for Relief from Stay proceeding. The chapter 7 trustee must be made a party to this proceeding, along with the contemnor debtor.

As your question is rather technical, you should first consult with a Virginia attorney experienced in both divorce law and bankruptcy law.

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