April 6, 2008

New Case Law: Attorney Fees – Bankruptcy and Divorce

As a Portland Oregon divorce law firm, Stephens & Margolin LLP is dedicated to keeping up to date on Oregon Court of Appeals and Oregon Supreme Court opinions. As a service of The Oregon Divorce Blog, we will be providing updates as new opinions come out.

On April 2, 2008, the Oregon Court of Appeals, in Jacobs and Jacobs, explained the effect of a bankruptcy proceeding on an award of attorney fees on appeal.  In the case, husband filed for bankruptcy after his divorce from wife.  In the divorce, the trial court awarded wife a judgment against husband for her attorney fees.  The attorney fee award was discharged by the bankruptcy court.  Husband appealed the divorce judgment.  Wife prevailed on appeal and was awarded her attorney fees incurred in responding to husband’s appeal by the Court of Appeals.  

On appeal of the attorney fee award, husband argued that wife’s appellate attorney fees were also discharged by the bankruptcy court since at least a portion of the fees were incurred while husband’s bankruptcy was pending.  In ruling for wife, the Court stated “[h]usband has neither provided sufficient information in the record to establish that his bankruptcy discharge includes the attorney fees at issue, nor has he authenticated the scant materials he has submitted to this court.  The record before the court is insufficient to determine the outcome of the bankruptcy proceeding”

The lesson to be gained from the opinion is that it is very important to provide the court with complete documentation of any issue that a party wants the court to review.  Without a complete record, the court is unable to rule in a party’s favor even if that party is correct.  You can review the full opinion at http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A128771.htm.  If you have any questions about appeallate law, attorney fees or any family law or divorce legal issue, please contact Daniel Margolin or C. Sean Stephens at Stephens & Margolin LLP