Monroeville, PA asked in Bankruptcy, Divorce, Tax Law, Domestic Violence and Family Law for Pennsylvania

Q: Violent Ex-husband filed bankruptcy 2x since Divorce. trying to have his debt to me deemed Unsecured. Can he do this?

Married in 1983, My Ex-husband was extremely abusive and controlling. I finally filed for divorce in 2013, after he crushed discs in my neck and I suffered a Pulmonary Embolism 3 days after surgery. Since then he has failed to abide by the divorce agreement, has committed tax fraud 7 years after our divorce, by putting my name and social security number on tax document, leaving me with an IRS Tax Debt that is now exceeding $69,000. He has committed federal theft, by taking taxes out of employee paychecks and not recording or paying the tax...This action caused all the employees to quit, and the business closed. He took a loan out on the commercial building for $250,000. and a loan out on a rental property for $60,000. and never paid any payments. (And the list is extensive) Twice now, Domestic Court has given me judgements against him(he did not comply) Now he is in his 2nd bankruptcy and his attorney is trying to get his debt to me dismissed. Over $130K was taken @ sell of home.

3 Lawyer Answers
Martha Warriner Jarrett
Martha Warriner Jarrett pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Bankruptcy Lawyer
  • Santa Barbara, CA

A: Obligations arising out of a divorce judgment are mostly non-dischargeable so he should not be able to get away with what you describe. You should consult a local bankruptcy attorney who can advise you on your particular situation and, if you want, represent you in challenging his bankruptcy. Most offer free consultations. Probably also a good idea to consult a tax attorney. If you do nothing, and depend on the Bankruptcy Court or the law to protect your rights, he might get away with it. Good luck.

Timothy Denison agrees with this answer

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Bankruptcy Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In bankruptcy proceedings, certain debts can be discharged, meaning the debtor is no longer legally required to pay them. However, not all debts are easily discharged in bankruptcy. Debts arising from domestic relations orders, such as child support, alimony, or other divorce-related obligations, are generally considered non-dischargeable in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This means that, typically, debts owed to a spouse or former spouse as a result of divorce cannot be eliminated through bankruptcy.

However, the classification of debts as secured, unsecured, priority, or non-priority can affect how they are treated in bankruptcy. If your ex-husband's attorney is attempting to classify a debt owed to you as "unsecured," it might impact how much of that debt is paid through the bankruptcy process. Still, it's important to remember that certain obligations, especially those related to divorce settlements or judgments, have protections against discharge in bankruptcy to some extent.

Given the complexities of bankruptcy law and the specifics of your situation, including the abusive history and the financial misconduct by your ex-husband, it would be prudent to consult with a legal professional. An attorney with expertise in both family law and bankruptcy can provide guidance, represent your interests in the bankruptcy proceedings, and help ensure that your rights to receive any owed payments are protected as much as possible.

Timothy Denison agrees with this answer

Peter Christopher Lomtevas
Peter Christopher Lomtevas pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Domestic Violence Lawyer
  • Schenectady, NY
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: With all due respect for the victim asker, all of what she provides is wholly irrelevant to the former husband's contempt of the divorce agreement if that agreement was so-ordered and made an order of the court.

In Pennsylvania, the applicable law would be Rule 140B, Contempt Not in the Presence of The Court. Under Rule 140B, an individual is in contempt when:

The person failed to obey a subpoena (failed to appear in court) issued by the court;

The person failed to comply with a court order; or

The person failed to comply with a court order directing him or her to pay fines and costs associated with an installment order.

The remaining question is whether the breach of divorce contract is actionable eleven years later. According to Pennsylvania case law and 42 Pa.C.S. 5528(a)(8), it is not. Too much time has passed for enforcement, and the four years statute of limitations according to caselaw and the code has passed.

The added facts about abuse and the man's financial wheelings and dealings add nothing to the enforceability of the underlying contract.

If there is more factual information as to the date of the execution of the contract, the asker is better off seeing an attorney.

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