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Home / Opinion / 10-14944-7 In re Vanderhei

10-14944-7 In re Vanderhei

Bankruptcy
Exemptions; marital property

Where assets classified as marital property are not fungible or easily divisible by nature, the debtor’s interest in the entire property justifies his ability to claim an exemption in the entire equity, up to the dollar limit of the exemption.

“While it is true that cases involving non-filing spouses are often full of problematic issues, the Court cannot find sufficient reason to divest the debtor of the full benefit of the exemptions afforded by law. This ruling is consistent with the liberal construction of the Wisconsin exemption statutes in favor of the debtor. As the Wisconsin Supreme Court has stated: It is well settled that exemption laws must have a liberal construction, within the limits contemplated by the Legislature, so as to secure their full benefit to the debtor, in order to advance the humane purpose of preserving to the unfortunate or improvident debtor and his family the means of obtaining a livelihood and thus prevent him from becoming a charge upon the public. Opitz v. Brawley, 10 Wis. 2d 93, 95-96, 102 N.W.2d 117, 119 (Wis. 1960) (citing Julius v. Druckrey, 214 Wis. 643, 649, 254 N.W. 358, 361 (Wis. 1934)). As a policy matter, exemption rights are to be construed liberally in the debtor’s favor in view of Congress’s goal of providing a meaningful fresh start for debtors. See In re Smith, 640 F. 2d 888, 891 (7th Cir. 1981). Allowing the debtor to protect the equity in marital property up to the dollar limits afforded to one debtor under applicable law is consistent with that policy.”

10-14944-7 In re Vanderhei

W.D.Wis., Utschig, J.


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