US Bankruptcy Judge for the District of Vermont, Hon. Colleen Brown, ruled that LS&W client Georgia Burke could pursue her ex-husband for his obligation to assume a marital debt under their divorce agreement, notwithstanding his attempt to discharge that debt in his Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The Court ruled that the ex-husband’s obligation was a non-dischargeable spousal support obligation that could be collected against the his exempt pension plan. The issue of whether marital debts could be enforced as non-dischargeable spousal support in bankruptcy had previously been unsettled in the District of Vermont.
The court’s decision is particularly relevant to parties contemplating divorce where one party may be considering a post-divorce bankruptcy filing. The Court’s decision approves language from the parties’ marital settlement agreement that makes the debt enforceable even in the event of bankruptcy.
Ms. Burke was represented by Hobart Popick, of LS&W’s Burlington office. Mr. Popick practices civil litigation, with particular focus on family law, creditor’s rights in bankruptcy, and employment law.
A copy of the decision can be found on the Bankruptcy Court’s website under “Court Decisions” at http://www.vtb.uscourts.gov/.