In re Henry Voss III

Case Type:
Case Status:
Ninth Circuit BAP No. ID-20-1053-SGF (9th Circuit, Jul 30,2020) Not Published
The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed the Bankruptcy Court's ruling that Debtor's former spouse's attorneys' fees incurred in the pre-petition family law litigation were non-dischargeable as a priority domestic support obligation. The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel reviewed the applicable state law pursuant to Idaho; and, affirmed that the nature of the attorneys' fees awarded for in the form of domestic support.
Procedural context:
The Debtor's former spouse filed a Proof of Claim in Debtor's Chapter 13 bankruptcy case based on the attorneys' fees judgment entered pre-bankruptcy alleging that the claim was in the nature of priority domestic support obligations. Debtor filed an objection to the Proof of Claim; and, Debtor's former spouse sought summary judgment in relation to the validity of the Claim. Albeit uncommon, the Debtor and Debtor's former spouse agreed that the issue pending before the Bankruptcy Court was an legal issue; therefore, they submitted the transcript of the family court litigation awarding Debtor's former spouse the attorneys' fees. The Bankruptcy Court considered the respective state law and determined that the attorneys' fees awarded in the nature of domestic support; therefore, nondischargeable. Debtor timely appealed the Bankruptcy Court's ruling.
Prior to the commencement of the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Debtor and Debtor's (now former) spouse litigated the pre-petition divorce. Thereafter, the Debtor filed for relief under Chapter 13. The former spouse filed the Proof of Claim asserted that the attorneys' fees awarded were in the nature of nondischargeable priority domestic support obligations. The Parties collectively agreed to that there were little to no factual disputes; and, submitted the transcript from the divorce litigation in support of the pending Motion(s) for Summary Judgment.
Bankruptcy Judge(s) Spraker, Gan, and Faris.

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