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A.J.
A.J., Attorney
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Satisfied Customers: 4259
Experience:  Experienced consumer bankruptcy attorney.
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My Chapter 7 discharged all my debts including judgments my

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My Chapter 7 discharged all my debts including judgments my ex-wife got against me. She waited 20 years to come forward and change the non modifiable divorce decree and her divorce lawyer (now the family court judge) agreed he had made a mistake in the original divorce decree & therefore changed the language so she could get judgments against me. She lives in Mo...I in FL. Florida BK judge allowed the judgments since they had nothing to do with child support or alimony as all that was satisfied in 1990. I was required to sell all my assets (my car) to satisfy the creditors. My ex-wife was not on that list. She and her attorney (the Judge's son) flew to Florida and demanded to be on that list. So she got the largest portion of the payouts. Mo Civil Court satisfied all judgments due to being discharged in BK. Now after four years, she successfully got the judge in Mo to amend his decision and he has now made his amended decision final and will hear no more of this case. He allowed all judgments to be active and she is now pursuing me for everything she can get. I have terminal cancer, am recovering from a quadruple bypass, on an insulin pump and have round the clock nursing care. I have no home, no checking account, no car, nothing. I cash my pension & SS cks and give them to my wife of 20 years and she handles all the bills for me with that. What can my ex do to me now that shes had those judgments overturned and is it legal to overturn a judgment that was discharged in a BK over 4 years ago? I cannot afford an atorney to help me. All my pension & SS are going to pay my medical bills & living expenses.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Expert:  A.J. replied 1 year ago.

SavyLawyer :

Hello, and thank you for contacting Just Answer.

SavyLawyer :

My name isXXXXX am a bankruptcy law professional, and I look forward to answering your question this evening.

SavyLawyer :

First, I am sorry you are having to deal with such a frustrating situation. Based on the information provided, you are correct, all judgment debts should be considered discharged by the state court, going back and trying to change things now is too late under the bankruptcy code, because the discharge has already happened. The problem, of course, is even though the judgments should be considered satisfied as the bankruptcy cleared them, if the state court judge has decided to re-open the judgments, and has made a final order about them, they may be considered re-opened. Now, if all of your assets (including bank accounts) are in Florida, then she would first have to transfer the judgments to Florida to enforce them. However, if you bank at a national chain bank with branches in both Missouri and Florida, there is always the risk of her trying to attack funds in your bank account.

SavyLawyer :

Now, having said that, there are a few options (although without the assistance of an attorney, either can be complicated):

SavyLawyer :

First, it is important to know that if your only income is Social Security and Pension income are protected from seizure in Missouri (Missouri Revised Statutes Section 513-430, which can be found HERE)

SavyLawyer :

The same is true should she try to enforce the judgment in Florida. So, even with the judgment re-instated, all of your income is arguably exempt from seizure.

SavyLawyer :

Second, a final order in Missouri can be appealed to the Missouri Appellate Court, although this is not easily done without the assistance of an attorney.

SavyLawyer :

If you cannot afford an attorney to assist you, you can try contacting one the pro bono (meaning free) legal aid services listed at:

SavyLawyer :

http://www.lsmo.org/program

SavyLawyer :

or, should the judgments be transferred to Florida, and you believe you cannot afford an attorney to assist you, you may want to try a legal aid service. A directory of Florida Legal Aid Services can be found at:

SavyLawyer :

http://www.floridalegal.org/2004%20noname%20Directory.htm

SavyLawyer :

So, in short, you are correct that, based on the information provided, the debts should have been (and in fact arguably were) resolved by the bankruptcy, and should not have been revived by the state court, as the discharge of debts is under the purview of the federal bankruptcy court. However, even if the judgments are collectable, both social security and pension income are exempt from collection in Missouri and Florida.

SavyLawyer :

I hope this helps, and let me know if you require any additional information, or need clarification. Otherwise, please remember to RATE my answer positively so that I can receive credit for my work.

Customer:

If I put my pension & SS checks in an account with my name and my wife's name on it, then can she garnish my bank account since all that would go in there are those two checks. That is all I have. She is suing me for punitive damages for the fact that she had to spend 18 years raising our three children. The irony of all of this is that she inherited over $8million about 4 years ago. Since she got all this money she semms hell bent on coming after me for more. I have been cashing my checks and giving them to my wife to put into her account to pay our bills. Am I doing anything illegal? Can she attach my wife's bank account? If she gets a foreign judgment here in Florida, can't I just go to court and show them the discharge along with the original satisfaction of judgment from the MO court?

SavyLawyer :

First, theoretically, yes, just the fact that the income is exempt should be enough to prevent seizure. However, sometimes what will happen is that the judgment creditor (your ex wife) will get a lien on the funds in the bank account (any account with your name on it, even a joint account), and then you would have to appear in court to argue that the funds are from an exempt source only. Although this is often a pretty routine matter, it can be frustrating to have to appear in court.

SavyLawyer :

If a bank account is only in your current wife's name, then no, that cannot be attached, only assets that you have a legal right to can be attached/garnished. Further, there is nothing illegal about cashing checks and handing the cash over to your wife, if that is what you have been doing all along.

SavyLawyer :

If your ex-wife were to get a foreign judgment entered in Florida, you would have the bankruptcy discharge, the satisfaction of judgment, and the fact that even if the judgments were allowed to stand your income is exempt from seizure in both the state the judgments were initially handed down in and the state in which you currently reside.

SavyLawyer :

I hope this helps further, and let me know if you have any additional questions. Otherwise, please remember to RATE my answer positively so that I can receive credit for my work.

A.J., Attorney
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Satisfied Customers: 4259
Experience: Experienced consumer bankruptcy attorney.
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