Divorce Decrees and Bankruptcy
In the preparation of a bankruptcy case, a decree of dissolution of marriage may disclose the following:
- Undisclosed debts and assets, obviously.
- Medical debts of a former spouse. In Oklahoma, a person is liable for all debts that his spouse incurs for necessities during the marriage, so all such debt needs to be listed on Schedule F.
- Orders directing the debtor to make non-support payments to a former spouse. In chapter 7 case, such obligations are not dischargeable. Indeed, in chapter 7, basically no obligations imposed by a divorce court are dischargeable. In chapter 13 case, non-support divorce-court obligations are dischargeable, and sometimes chapter 13 is selected for that reason. One workaround for this issue is to persuade the former spouse to file a bankruptcy case of his/her own.
- Orders directing the debtor to pay debts that are joint with a former spouse. In chapter 7, such obligations are not dischargeable. In chapter 13, they are dischargeable, and sometimes chapter 13 is selected for that reason. Even in chapter 7, it is not a problem if the debts are joint or if the debtor was ordered to pay them; the problem arises when both of those facts are present.
Brian Huckabee is a Tulsa, Oklahoma, attorney with a practice concentrated in bankruptcy and business law. He has handled thousands of business and consumer bankruptcy cases in the past three decades, consisting primarily of chapter 7 and 13 cases, but also including numerous chapter 11 business reorganizations and chapter 12 farm reorganizations. He represents corporate and individual debtors but also has credit union and creditor clients. He has served as an Adjunct Settlement Judge in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. He is a member (2020 chair) of the Board of Directors of the Bankruptcy and Reorganization Section of the Oklahoma Bar Association. He is licensed in all of Oklahoma’s federal judicial districts, but he concentrates in the Northern and Eastern Districts. He is a member of the Bankruptcy Section of the Tulsa County Bar Association. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors from Oklahoma State University in 1978 and a Juris Doctorate degree from University of Oklahoma in 1981. He has been married for over 30 years to a Tulsa attorney, and he has two grown children, one of whom is a Tulsa attorney. He attends Harvard Avenue Christian Church in Tulsa.
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