Diener v. McBeth (In re Diener)

B.A.P. 9th Cir., Nov. 21, 2012, BAP CC-12-1093, 2012 WL 5874648
The BAP affirmed the bankruptcy court order sustaining an objection to Debtor's claim of a spousal support exemption pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 704.130 (b)(10)(D). On de novo review, the BAP determined that the Marital Settlement Agreement was not ambiguous and that the claim of exemption was not proper. Although reaching the right result, the BAP concluded that the bankruptcy court committed harmless error when it improperly admitted extrinsic evidence regarding the parties intentions since the agreement was not ambiguous. The BAP also noted that when reviewing ambiguous agreements to dermine what constitutes alimony, support, and maintenance, nondischargeability cases under § 523 should not be used when analyzing exemptions under § 522. Instead, state statutory rules of contract should be applied.
Procedural context:
Debtor appeals an order from the bankruptcy court disallowing her claimed exemption for retirement funds she asserted constituted “spousal support” under California Code of Civil Procedure § 703.140(b)(10)(D).
Debtor claimed that a retirement account was exempt as spousal support pursuant to California Code of Civil Procuedure § 703.140(b)(10)(D).
Kirscher, Novack, and Pappas

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