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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Vicki Marie Egleston appeals the summary judgment in her adversary proceeding to except from discharge various Pennsylvania state court judgments rendered against her ex-husband, a Chapter 7 debtor, Leon Alan Egleston. HOLDING:Affirmed in part; reversed in part and remanded. The state court in a June 18, 1998, order awarded Vicki $42,275 for “attorneys’ fees incurred in attempts to enforce the marital settlement order.” Vicki argues that Swate v. Hartwell, 99 F.3d 1282 (5th Cir. 1996), stands for the proposition that any state court award for damages based on a debtor’s failure to pay nondischarged alimony is also nondischargeable. The court disagrees with this “broad” interpretation of Swate. In this case, the bankruptcy court found Swate inapplicable because, unlike the judgment in Swate’s first bankruptcy, the judgment in Vicki’s adversary proceeding in Alan’s original bankruptcy did not explicitly except from discharge attorneys’ fees for collection of alimony. The bankruptcy court noted that the state court’s award for attorneys’ fees “for post-discharge collection and enforcement are clearly not within the scope of the final determinations between the Eglestons.” While this may be accurate, it is not sufficient justification to find void the state court judgment for attorneys’ fees. The court agrees with Vicki that a bankruptcy court judgment that excepts from discharge a stream of future support payments does not have to explicitly state that attorneys’ fees related to the collection of those support payments are also excepted from discharge. For the same reason that reasonable attorneys’ fees associated with establishing support obligations are treated as an integral part of the support obligations, the reasonable attorneys’ fees associated with collecting support obligations should also be treated as support obligations. Conversely, those attorneys’ fees associated with collecting discharged debt should be treated as discharged debt, the court states. The problem with Vicki’s attorneys’ fees in this case is that some of Vicki’s legal proceedings were legitimate attempts to collect nondischarged alimony obligations, while some were illegitimate efforts to collect discharged debt. Under �524(a)(1), the state court judgment awarding attorneys’ fees to Vicki is void to the extent that those attorneys’ fees were incurred in the determination of Alan’s liability with respect to discharged debt. Because the record is insufficient to allow a determination on this issue, the court remands this case to the district court with directions to remand the case to the bankruptcy court for further proceedings regarding the classification of the state court’s award of Vicki’s attorneys’ fees. The state court in its June 18, 1998, order awarded Vicki $65,000 for “the loss of equity in the real property located in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania” and $20,000 for “the loss in equity in the automobile repossessed by the bank, caused by [Alan's] refusal to pay the required alimony payments.” The bankruptcy court annulled these awards after finding them barred by res judicata and noting that, unlike the state court judgment upheld in Swate, the state court’s judgment for Vicki was not a mere change in the form of the judgment rendered in Alan’s original bankruptcy. The district court affirmed, holding that the bankruptcy court’s decision that the damages were barred by res judicata was a finding of fact that was not clearly erroneous. The $65,000 was awarded to compensate Vicki for her lost equity in real property that was foreclosed on after Vicki failed to make mortgage payments, which failure � according to the state court � was a result of Alan’s breach of his obligation to make alimony payments. The record reflects that the foreclosure on Vicki’s real property had commenced prior to Alan’s bankruptcy petition. Similarly, the $20,000 was awarded to Vicki for lost equity in an automobile that was repossessed after she failed to make her car payments. The record is clear that Alan breached his obligation to make alimony payments prior to filing his petition and that Vicki’s car was “up for repossession” pre-petition. Under the Bankruptcy Code’s broad definition of “claim,” Vicki therefore had pre-petition claims for this debt. These pre-petition claims represented pre-petition debt that was discharged in Alan’s bankruptcy unless it is excepted from the discharge under �523(a). Vicki argues that these amounts are excepted from discharge under �523(a)(5), or alternatively, under �523(a)(15). Both arguments fail. While they result from Alan’s breach of his obligation to pay alimony, the awards themselves are not in the nature of alimony, maintenance, or support as required by �523(a)(5), the court states. Instead, the state court’s judgment awards may well be the type of debt contemplated by �523(a)(15). As the lower courts held, �523(a)(15) is not available to allow Vicki to except from discharge any of Alan’s debts that arose prior to the filing of Chapter 7 petition on March 14, 1994. Therefore, these pre-petition debts were not excepted from Alan’s 1994 discharge. Because these two debts were discharged, the state court’s judgment awards for $65,000 and $20,000 were a determination of Alan’s personal liability with respect to a discharged debt, and are therefore void under �524(a)(1). The state court in its June 18, 1998, order also awarded Vicki $10,000 for “lost personal possessions taken by [Alan] contrary to the provisions of the marital agreement order, and the balance which was sold by [Vicki] to live on when [Alan] refused to provide the required alimony payments.” To the extent the $10,000 award represents a determination of Alan’s discharged pre-petition debt, it is void under �524(a)(1). The court remands this issue for a factual determination of how this $10,000 award breaks down into pre-petition and post-petition claims. The final portion of the state court judgment at issue in this case is the $6,000 which the June 18, 1998, order awarded to Vicki “for expenses incurred by [Vicki] in traveling to Louisiana to defend the property settlement agreement when [Alan] attempted to discharge the same in bankruptcy.” Vicki’s claim for this sum arose post-petition and thus Alan’s liability for this sum was not a pre-petition debt that was discharged in bankruptcy. Therefore the state court judgment award for this amount is not void under �524(a)(1). OPINION:Garwood, J.; Garwood, Clement and Prado, J.J.

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