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Bankrupt husband owes wife attorney’s fees

The nexus between debt and divorce has occupied the Virginia Court of Appeals this week.

In a published opinion out of Hanover County, the appellate court said in Marvin v. Marvin that a husband’s debt of attorney’s fees to wife in her proceeding charging violations of a court visitation order could not be discharged in husband’s bankruptcy, because the fee award to wife is “in the nature of child support.”

In Stacy v. Stacy, a wife tried to insulate the husband’s ongoing mortgage payments from a possible bankruptcy by calling them “in the nature of support” in the parties’ PSA. But a panel majority said the husband still could terminate the mortgage payments when wife admitted to cohabitation with another man. Judge Elizabeth McClanahan dissented in the unpublished opinion in the case out of Buchanan County, saying the parties expressly waived their rights to spousal support in the PSA and the trial court had no authority to terminate the husband’s obligation to a third party, the mortgage lender.

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