- Turpen v. Rouse, No. 12-6039 (BAP 8th Cir. November 2, 2012)
- The court affirmed the bankruptcy court's ruling which held that Mo.Rev.Stat 513.440 does not provide an exemption for children who are not related - either biologically or through adoption - to the head of a family.
- Procedural context:
- The debtor appealed from the bankruptcy court's order sustaining the chapter 7 trustee's objection to the debtor's claim of exemptions and granting the trustee's motion for turnover.
- The debtor is single and lives with his two minor children, an unrelated woman, and her three minor children. In the detbor's chapter 7 case, he claimed exemptions in his amended schedules which included a $1,050 exemption as head of the family for the unrelated woman's three children. The debtor's primary argument was that the word "children" as used in Mo.Rev.Stat. 513.440 was ambiguous, demanding a broader interpretation to include all children of a family. The statute, in pertinent part, provides an exemption for a head of a family and "such person's umarried dependent children under the age of twenty-one years." The court found that the debtor's argument, while creative, was unfounded as the plain language of the statute - specifically the use of the possessive form of person - indicates that the plain meaning of children is a "son or daughter belonging to such person." Agreeing with the bankruptcy court, the BAP found that Section 513.440 plainly states that only a child belonging to the head of a family - by either blood or adoption - qualifies for the unmarried dependent child exemption. The court also rejected the debtor's alternative argument that the statute permits exemptions for children of which the head of the family is in loco parentis. The debtor's argument was based upon the language of a child abuse case which analyzed a statute that referred to "any person having the care and control" of an infant. The court noted that Section 513.440 contained no comparable language, but rather plainly states that the dependent child exemption is available only for the head of the family's unmarried dependent children.
- Kressel, Saladino, and Nail
Thelma McCoy v. USA
Summarizing by Craig Geno
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