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Bankruptcy Filings Make Messy Divorce Cases Even Messier


The Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution outlaws debtors’ prison and other similarly harsh punishments for not being able to repay debts.  In keeping with this principle, everyone who is struggling with debt has the right to file for chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy protection.  Recently divorced people account for a disproportionate share of bankruptcy filers, but there is no law against filing for bankruptcy while your divorce is pending.  Neither your ex-spouse nor the divorce court can stop you from filing for bankruptcy.  This is especially notable considering that the divorce court can stop you from spending your own money when it determines that your spending counts as dissipation of marital assets.  Since it is so difficult to resolve property division issues while a bankruptcy case is pending, then a bankruptcy filing by a spouse in the middle of a divorce can effectively force the family court to pause the divorce case.  If you have just filed for divorce and your finances are a mess, a Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you look at the big picture.

“King” Richard Williams’ Estranged Wife Files Last-Minute Bankruptcy Papers to Stop the Bank From Selling Their Former Marital Home

It is a familiar story.  Famous man marries much younger woman, and they buy a fabulous house in South Florida.  They separate, and the ex-wife keeps the house, so the now elderly and infirm husband must go through a legal battle to keep any rights to it or get any money for it.  This happened with the Miami mansion once shared by musician Phil Collins and his then-wife Orianne Cevey, and more recently it is happening with the Palm Beach Gardens house where tennis coach Richard Williams once lived with his now estranged wife Lakeisha Williams.

The house features in the events of the biopic King Richard.  Richard Williams and his then-wife Oracene bought the house on several acres of land and built tennis courts where they trained the couple’s daughters Venus and Serena until they became tennis superstars.  Venus and Serena’s parents eventually divorced, with Richard keeping the house.  In 2009, Richard married Lakeisha, who is 37 years his junior, and she moved into the house.  In 2017, Richard and Lakeisha separated, and Lakeisha stayed in the house with the couple’s son.

The house is allegedly worth $1.3 million, but Lakeisha, who removed Richard’s name from the deed when the couple separated, owes about $500,000 on it.  The day before the house was supposed to be sold off, Lakeisha Williams filed for chapter 13 bankruptcy.  Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection involves making payments on your debts for about five years, at the end of which some of the debts are discharged.

Contact Schwartz | White About High Net Worth Divorce in Untenable Financial Circumstances

A South Florida divorce lawyer can help you if your estranged spouse’s decision to file for bankruptcy is making your divorce case drag out for years.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.




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