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Chapter 13, Child Support, and Jail

In re Repine was a case exemplifying how there is an overlap between Criminal Law, Bankruptcy, and Family Law sometimes.  The debtor filed Chapter 13 while incarcerated for failure to pay child support. The debtor and his ex spouse negotiated an agreement, and the bankruptcy court entered an Agreed Order to give that agreement effect.

However, the attorney for the ex spouse continued to oppose the debtor's release from jail in family court, because she was concerned her fees would not be paid.  The attorney sent a fax stating she would not appear in court to submit an agreed order releasing the debtor from jail until she received payment.  The debtor and ex spouse jointly moved to enforce the Agreed Order in the bankruptcy court and for the debtor's immediate release from jail, and explained the attorney's refusal to agree to the release from jail until her fees were paid.

The Bankruptcy Court ordered the attorney to appear the next day and show cause why she should not be held in contempt for attempting to collect her fees in violation of the automatic stay.  The attorney failed to appear, was subsequently taken into custody and the bankruptcy court admonished her to cease her collection of fees from the estate.


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