March/April 2010 Newsletter

Law Day 2010 



On April 30, 2010, Attorney Susan Castleton Ryan spoke to students at the Kingston Middle School as part of Plymouth County's celebration of Law Day.  Established by a presidential proclamation in 1958, Law Day is a long-standing tradition across the nation.  The purpose is to celebrate the most important goals of the legal profession, including the advancement of equality and justice.


The theme of Law Day for 2010 is Law in the 21st Century: Enduring Traditions, Emerging Challenges.  Law Day is traditionally celebrated on May 1st each year.  Various celebrations and activities are being held at numerous schools and courthouses throughout Plymouth County.



Once a divorce complaint has been filed, or at the time that the parties separate, finances become quite important.  The parties are either living in two homes, or contemplating a separation, meaning the money that had supported one home will now have to provide for two homes.  The issues of child support, alimony, etc., have been discussed in prior newsletters.  In the event that the parties have experienced an unusually difficult financial situation during the marriage, bankruptcy may be an option for one or both of the parties.  Prior to filing for divorce, it is important to consider the amount and type of credit card debt, the status of the mortgages, home equity lines, and other possible liens against the marital home, in order to determine whether bankruptcy is an option.  I am not a bankruptcy attorney, but I am aware of how bankruptcy and divorce interact.  Anyone with specific questions related to bankruptcy, or those individuals receiving calls from a debt collection company, should contact a bankruptcy attorney for further information and options.
It is extremely important to consider options in bankruptcy prior to filing a divorce.  It may be that there is a benefit to both parties to file a joint petition for bankruptcy, as opposed to filing separately.  Additionally, consideration must be given to whether or not there is a personal bankruptcy filed, and/or whether there are bankruptcies filed for businesses/corporations.


Anyone contemplating divorce and a possible filing of bankruptcy should consult with both a domestic relations attorney and a bankruptcy attorney as well.  In the event that a party files for divorce, and during the time the divorce is pending before the Probate & Family Court makes a decisions to file for bankruptcy, that bankruptcy filing will prevent the divorce from proceeding in a timely manner, unless relief is granted from the bankruptcy court.  At the time that a bankruptcy is filed, there is an automatic stay filed that prevents creditors from further actions or proceedings against the debtor.  Therefore, it is always wise to consider whether or not the parties will file for bankruptcy first, joint or otherwise, prior to filing for divorce.  Parties with joint credit card debt should be concerned if their spouse files for bankruptcy in his or her name only, as the other spouse may be named as a creditor on his or her bankruptcy petition.  If one spouse's debt, credit card or otherwise, is discharged, that is have no further obligation to pay, the creditor will likely try to find any other guarantors or joint card holders.  This could have a significant impact on the division and allocation of debt and other marital assets.


There are several debts that may not be discharged in bankruptcy.  These include child support, alimony, student loans, criminal restitution, and some obligations from a property settlement in divorce.  There is a strong policy interest in protecting ex-spouses and children from the loss of alimony, support, and maintenance owed by a debtor who has filed for bankruptcy.  Additionally, case law is clear that attorney's fees incurred by a spouse are non-dischargeable so long as the primary debt is excepted from discharge.  Therefore, if attorney's fees are awarded as part of a judgment of contempt for failure to comply with court orders or judgments regarding child support and/or alimony, such attorney's fees are also non-dischargeable in a subsequent bankruptcy, even if the debtor lists the attorney and/or the spouse as a creditor.  Therefore, it is extremely important that there is a clear distinction between alimony and property division, and that the courts do not "blur" or merge the two issues.


Due to the complexity of the issues related to bankruptcy, it is always advisable to seek the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney.

Issue: 15

scales of justice

In This Issue
Law Day 2010
Bankruptcy: Will It Impact Your Divorce?



Tune in to the South Shore's radio station, WATD, on May 9, 2010 at 7:00 PM when Scituate Therapist and Life Coach, Teri Sica, interviews Abington attorney, Susan Castleton Ryan.  For more information, please visit Teri Sica's website at
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If anyone has a topic that would be of general interest, please do not hesitate to contact the office and let us know what items would be of general interest to the readers of this newsletter.
Susan C. Ryan, Esq.
Law Office of Susan Castleton Ryan, PC
(781) 982-8850

This newsletter is designed to keep you up-to-date with changes in the law.  For help with these or any other legal issues, please call our firm today.
The information in this newsletter is intended solely for your information .  It does not constitute legal advice, and it should not be relied on without a discussion of your specific situation with an attorney.