Getting a divorce can be expensive enough, as well as traumatic. But if you have a divorce in Texas and you lose a fight over child custody, it's common that you may be ordered to pay your ex-spouse's attorneys fees and costs. If that happens, don't believe for a minute that you can discharge or cancel that debt in bankruptcy.
In a case decided on October 22, 2014, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Marvin Isgur in Houston ruled that over $100,000 in attorney fees and costs incurred in a child custody dispute would not be discharged in the husband's chapter 13 bankruptcy case.
Not only that, but the court decided that the attorney fees and costs were a priority claim, and had to be paid in full during the bankruptcy plan because they were in the "nature of support" and therefore a "domestic support obligation" or DSO. The court allowed the priority proof of claim as a domestic support obligation. In re Beacham, Bankr. Court, SD Texas 2014.
If you are going to fight about child custody, have a very deep pocket. Not only will you have to pay your own attorney, if you lose you'll likely have to pay your ex-spouse's attorney and you likely will not be able to discharge that debt in bankruptcy. The debt (if any) to your own attorney can generally be discharged.
Do you think this is fair? Shouldn't the parties have to pay their own attorney fees? Or at least shouldn't attorney fees be able to be discharged in bankruptcy? What do you think? Please leave your comments below.