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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 116306
Experience:  Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
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My question is son. He was divorced about 6

Customer Question

My question is for my son. He was divorced about 6 mos ago in the state of Alaska. he pays child support of 702 based on his income. He has subsequently moved to Alamagordo, NM with the USAF. The judgement in the case split the outstanding balances for a credit card (about 3000) and an automobile (which the ex-wife is driving). The ex-wife has custody of a little girl from the marriage. My son has visitation privileges. The ex-wife has also relocated to Texas and lives with her parents. In the judgement my son must also pay the ex-wives lawyer 10000 in lawyer fees.
My son has paid his child support payments as decreed. He has not paid any of the 10000 to the ex's lawyer.
He has paid both his judgement payment and his ex-wives judgement payment for the car. She has not paid anything.
He has also paid both his judgement amount and hers towards the credit card
This has forced him into insolvency. He has missed both of his last payments on his vehicle. He is also late on his credit card payment and his utility bill.
The wife owes over 1000 on the missed car payments and near that amount for the credit card.
Both the credit card and the car are in my sons name. It would appear that she has no intention of paying these judgements either now or in the future.
Is there anything he can do WITHOUT incurring any further legal costs?
Thank You,
Mike Crowley
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
While I know you do not want to incur more legal costs, but unless your son has the ability and time to file his own legal documents in court in Alaska and in TX where she is now, it may be economical for your son to consider filing bankruptcy, which would extinguish the credit card debt to him and possibly (although not certainly) the attorney's fees as well and will give him a clean start without all of the debt from the divorce. Even if the attorney's fees are not discharged, at least all of your son's other debts are discharged and he can focus on paying only that debt and not dealing with the ex anymore.
According to Bankruptcy law, "A discharge voids any judgment, whenever obtained, that determines the personal liability of the debtor on any discharged debt; enjoins any judicial or non-judicial action to collect, recover or offset any discharged debt as a personal liability of the debtor; and enjoins the collection of certain claims against the debtor’s community property." See: Ginsberg & Martin on Bankruptcy, Fourth Edition, Section 11.01(B).
The courts have held that the divorce attorney's fees may be discharged as a debt in bankruptcy. See: In re Linda M. Rios, 901 F.2d 711 (7th Cir. 1990). However, the courts also hold that three requirements that must be met in order for a debt to be non-dischargeable: (1) the underlying debt must be in the nature of alimony, maintenance, or support; (2) the debt must be owed to a former spouse or child; and (3) the debt must be incurred in connection with a separation agreement, divorce, or property settlement agreement or other order of a court of record. See: In re Reines, 142 F.3d 970, 972 (7th Cir. 1998)(citing Kinnally v. Fonnemann , 128 B.R. 214, 217 (Bankr. N.D.IL 1991).
So it is possible he may not get out from the attorney fee part of the judgment, but all the other debts would be gone and he could then pay just child support and negotiate a payment plan with the attorney free of having to deal with all of his other debts.
The only other thing he could do is file in court in Alaska for a Motion for an order to show cause for contempt for her not holding up her end of the bargain paying the debts, then he would have to take that judgment to Texas to seek to get it enforced and the costs and time of him doing that could be way more than just an attorney to do bankruptcy and many times his JAG officers would be able to refer him to someone to assist him at low cost or discounted rates.