Question asked on Aug 16th, 2015

Q: He was awarded the marital property with the divorce decree stating he is to pay a certain amt monthly with interest until he has paid me my portion. We are 4 months in and he’s made 1 pymt and is close to being foreclosed upon. The property settlement amt owed to me is approximately 45k. If he loses the home, will i lose my equity? There is a Siragusa (?) in the decree should he file bankruptcy, which he is also stating he will be doing.

A: It is never wise to comment on a document that you have not personally read, but if your Decree says what it probably says, the loss of the house is his risk, not yours — the debt to you was established based on values existing at the time of the divorce, and the obligation to you should not be dependent on post-divorce events.

Of course, if he really does go bankrupt and loses everything and has no money, there is a “blood from a stone” possibility; you may have to renew your judgment (6 years) and plan a strategy for involuntary collections.  The Siragusa clause is intended to allow alimony to be ordered if he defaults in the property payments; some lecturers have opined that such clauses violate federal bankruptcy law.

Your best bet may be to chat with your divorce lawyer about collections, and if that is not satisfactory, seek a second opinion by a divorce attorney versed in both family law and collections practice.

Marshal S. Willick