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Section 522 Exemptions (Judge Gargotta)

In re Rieves (July 17, 2012)
Issue: Can a debtor avoid a properly attached lien against his homestead granted to his ex-spouse in a divorce decree?
Holding: Since the Debtor had a pre-existing interest in 10 of the 13.1 acres encumbered by the lien, that portion of the lien can be avoided under § 522(f). The remaining 3.1 acres of property, however, was awarded to Debtor in the divorce decree which also granted the lien against the property. Since Debtor never possessed interest in the 3.1 acres before the lien fixed, that portion of the lien cannot be avoided under § 522(f).

In re Arredondo-Smith (July 22, 2010)
Issue: Whether the Debtor, who, under the choice-of-law provision of section 522(b)(3)(A) and Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 704.710-730, may apply California homestead exemption law extraterritorially to property located in Austin, Texas?
Holding: California exemption law may apply extraterritorially to property located in the State of Texas, but because Debtor had declared “homestead” in California she may not now abandon such, and claim a homestead different than the family homestead that she and her former spouse previously established.

In re Schellenberg (May 7, 2010)
Issue: Should Chapter 7 Trustee’s objection to Debtor’s amended schedule C property claim as exempt be granted, when Debtors who switched from state to federal exemptions upon conversion from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7, initially claimed a homestead exemption under Chapter 13, and then sought to exempt additional property after conversion to Chapter 7 that the Debtors did not exempt when they filed Chapter 13?
Holding: Chapter 7 Trustee’s Objection should be granted and the additional exemptions disallowed.

In re Camp (September 25, 2008)
Issue: Whether Florida’s exemption laws are unavailable to the Debtor because they do not apply to property outside of Florida and whether the Debtor may claim the exemptions offered under 11 U.S.C. § 522(d)?
Holding: Under § 522(b)(2) and (3)(A), the exemption laws of the State of Florida, including its opt-out statute (§ 222.20 of the Florida Statutes), apply to the Debtor herein. Additionally, the restriction in Fla. Stat. § 222.20 to non-residents is pre-empted by the federal choice of law provision of § 522(b)(3)(A), and therefore Florida’s opt-out from the exemptions provided in 11 U.S.C. § 522(d) binds the Debtor.

In re Rector (February 11, 2008)
Issue: Whether Debtor should be allowed to Avoid Lien pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 522(f) when it is asserted that (1) not all of the property is exempt, in that its value exceeds the allowed exempt amount under 11 U.S.C. § 522(d)(5), and (2) the Debtor is judicially estopped by her prior allegations that claim was in fact secured by the property?
Holding: With respect to the argument that the property is not fully exempt because its value exceeds the allowed amount under § 522(d)(5), Debtor’s counsel argued that Chick was mistaken on the facts regarding what was listed on the Amended Schedules, and the Court agrees and so finds that objection to the Motion to Avoid Lien on that basis should be overruled. Additionally, the Court also rejects Chick’s argument that the Debtor should be judicially estopped to challenge its lien, because Debtor’s having agreed that the claim is secured is not only entirely consistent with her attempt to avoid the lien, but it is also a necessary element in proving a right to such avoidance. As such, Debtor’s Motion to Avoid Lien of Chick & Associates, Inc. is granted.

In re Kelly L. Knapper (June 13, 2012)
Issue: Does § 522(c)(1) of the Bankruptcy Code require that exempt property be turned over to a domestic support obligation claimant? Additionally, does § 507(a)(1) authorize the trustee to administer exempt property for the benefit of a domestic support obligation claimant?
Holding: Section 522(c)(1) does not make an otherwise exempt asset nonexempt for the payment of domestic support obligations. Although § 522(c)(1) mandates that exempt property remains liable for domestic support obligation debts, this does not mean that the statute requires that the property by turned over to the estate. Section 507(a)(1) does not authorize the trustee to administer exempt property for the benefit of a domestic support obligation claimant; it permits a domestic support obligation claimant to receive priority in distribution of the estate.