A father who owed the mother of his children over $8,000 in back child support and who was arrested when he entered tne Bankruptcy Court in upstate NY has successfully sued her because she violated the law prohibitting collection of debts without court permission after a bankruptcy petition has been filed.
The father, no longer a NY resident, had travelled from Florida with his new family to attend the meeting of creditors in his NY bankruptcy case. The mother, aware of the meeting, had the local Sheriff''s office at the courthouse ready to arrest him on a child support arrest warrant when he entered. The father claimed that the mother violated the special protective provisions of the bankrutpcy law to protect debtors and sued her and the county for the violations. The county settled and the case against the mother went to trial.
After trial, the Bankrutpcy Judge found that the mother's violation was not malicious, was not in bad faith and therefore was not going to subject her to punitive damages, HOWEVER, she was made to pay the father's legal fees to two different attorneys, lost wages, court reporting fees and damages for emotional distress when he was jailed and held for 17 days. Judment for the father in the amount of $13,179.50.
While the decision appears stunning to any non-lawyer, it does highlight the intricacies of the law and collection of child support. Clearly the mother who has already been burdened with the father's non-payment of child support is now sustaining a more serious injury, having to pay additional money to the father. However, the Bankrutpcy Laws arise from federal law and the "automatic stay" of lawsuits and debt collection is a serious matter. In this case, the law was gender and need blind.
If you are in need of legal assistance to collect child support or to defend against a child support proceeding it is important that you obtain legal advice to avoid any possible serious mistakes. My office will guide you through this process. Please call my office to schedule your free consultation.