Big Win in the Ninth Circuit for Public Law Center

Hello All,

I wanted to share with you that just yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel and held that a debt owed by a parent to the Orange County Probation Department as the result of the involuntary incarceration of the parent’s minor child is not in the nature of support, and therefore is a dischargeable debt.

The BAP had previously held that the debt was “in the nature of support” and therefore was a Domestic Support Obligation that was nondischargeable under 101(14A) and 523(a)(5). The Ninth Circuit reversed, saying, amont other things, that BAPCPA changed who could be creditors, not what type of debts were covered by 523(a)(5), and this debt does not fit within the state’s family support infrastructure. This is an incredible win for our client, but also a win for other debtors in Orange County who were being pursued by Probation for similar debts.

PLC co-counseled on the case with Rutan & Tucker and Snell & Wilmer. Snell took the lead on the Ninth Circuit appeal, including the oral argument in June. Brett Ramsaur in Snell’s Orange County office did a fantastic job – we are very grateful for his assistance.

The published opinion is attached.


Leigh E. Ferrin
Directing Attorney, Consumer Law, Operation Veterans Re-Entry & Pro Bono
Public Law Center
601 Civic Center Drive West | Santa Ana, CA 92701-4002
(714) 541-1010 ext. 290 |

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