A Superior Court judge in Georgia could not order that a divorce settlement be wiped out in bankruptcy, a federal bankruptcy judge has ruled. Even though the divorce decree provided that “the property division payments to the Plaintiff shall not be dischargeable in bankruptcy,” Judge W. Homer Drake of the Northern District of Georgia makes it clear that the Georgia court lacked jurisdiction to decide the effect of bankruptcy on the divorce.
There are certain kinds of debts that are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. However, these bankruptcy exceptions include support obligations arising from divorce, but do not include property settlements distinct from support.
The divorce decree included provisions that the defendant would pay his ex-wife $1,300 a month for child support and $53,000 “as part of the property division,” the court said. But the decree also said that “the property division payments to the plaintiff shall not be dischargeable in bankruptcy,” it said.
The bankruptcy court rejected the Georgia court’s decree that the obligation would not be dischargeable because it violated public policy. In addition, it found that the state court lacked jurisdiction to make that call.
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