United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
For Christopher Trentadue, Appellant: Jared M Nusbaum, Rollie R Hanson, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Law Office of Rollie R Hanson SC, West Allis, WI.
For Julie Gay, Appellee: Helen M Ludwig, LEAD ATTORNEY, Sengstock Budny & Ludwig SC, West Allis, WI.
J.P. Stadtmueller, United States District Judge.
This bankruptcy appeal has a long and complicated history, dating back to a 2007 divorce proceeding in Waukesha County. The debtor appellant, Christopher Trentadue, and his ex-wife divorced in 2007. In re Trentadue, 527 B.R. 328, 330 (Bankr. E.D. Wis. 2015) (opinion below). After their divorce was final, the two engaged in a bitter and drawn-out fight involving disputes over custody, placement, and support of their children. See id. Apparently, Mr. Trentadue was the primary aggressor in these disputes, resulting in wasted time and excessive legal fees. ( See Docket #3 at 31-51 (May 16, 2013 written decision of Waukesha County Circuit Court in underlying divorce action, describing Mr. Trentadue's litigation tactics)). Thus, as a result of Mr. Trentadue's "overtrial" of the issues in the case, the Waukesha County Circuit Court ordered Mr. Trentadue to pay $25,000.00 directly to his ex-wife's attorney, claimant-appellee Julie Gay. (Docket #3 at 50).
Mr. Trentadue never paid that amount to Ms. Gay; instead, he filed a chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. See In re Trentadue, 527 B.R. at 331. Ms. Gay filed her $25,000.00 claim in relation thereto, and in doing so specified that the claim was a priority domestic support obligation (" DSO" ) under 11 U.S.C. § 507(a)(1), and thus excepted from discharge and also entitled to priority. Id. Mr. Trentadue objected to Ms. Gay's claim, arguing that it should not be classified as a DSO. Id. Ultimately, the presiding bankruptcy judge sided with Ms. Gay and, thus, allowed the $25,000.00 claim as a DSO. Id. at 335.
Mr. Trentadue has appealed that ruling. ( See Docket #1). On appeal, he maintains that Ms. Gay's $25,000.00 claim cannot be classified as a DSO. ( See Docket #6, #12).
So, what qualifies as a DSO? The term " domestic support obligation" or " DSO" is defined by 11 U.S.C. § 101(14A) as:
a debt that accrues before, on, or after the date of the order of relief in a case under this title, including interest that accrues on that debt as provided under applicable nonbankruptcy law notwithstanding any other provision of this title, that is--
(A) owed to or recoverable by--
(i) a spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor or such child's parent, legal guardian, or responsible relative; or
(ii) a governmental unit;
(B) in the nature of alimony, maintenance, or support (including assistance provided by a governmental unit) of such spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor or such child's parent, without ...