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In re Earnest

United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Florida
2013 WL 6504359 (Bankr. N.D. Fla.)


Michael Earnest (defendant) filed a petition for divorce from Constance Dodson (plaintiff) after nearly two years of separation. At the time of separation, Earnest had moved out of the marital home, leaving behind two minor children, and moved into an apartment with his girlfriend. Later, Dodson worked two jobs and paid all of the household expenses and sums related to the children’s daycare, with no support from Earnest. Earnest and Dodson agreed to sell the marital home, which had no equity. During the period of separation, Dodson paid $61,461 toward the mortgage to prevent foreclosure. Earnest paid nothing toward the mortgage. At trial, the court found that Earnest and Dodson had comparable incomes. The court equitably divided the marital property, awarded Dodson exclusive use and possession of the home, and ordered Earnest to reimburse Dodson one-half of the amount she had paid on the mortgage during the period of separation and one-half of the monthly mortgage amount from the time of dissolution until the home was sold. Subsequently, Earnest filed a Chapter 13 petition for bankruptcy, seeking to discharge his obligation to pay Dodson the mortgage-reimbursement amount and continuing amounts until the house was sold.

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