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Johnson v. Zimmer

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
686 F.3d 224 (2012)


Facts

Johnson (plaintiff) filed for bankruptcy and claimed a household of seven members. Johnson and her ex-husband Zimmer shared joint custody of their two sons. Both sons resided with Johnson for 204 days per year. Johnson also had three stepchildren from her current husband. These stepchildren resided with Johnson 180 days per year. Zimmer objected to Johnson’s bankruptcy plan based on an overstated size of the household, because the children did not reside with Johnson full-time. The bankruptcy court adopted the economic-unit approach to determine the size of Johnson’s household. The bankruptcy court determined valuations for each of the five children based on the amount of time each spent living with Johnson. The two sons were assigned a valuation of 0.56 each. The three stepchildren were assigned a valuation of 0.49 each. The total valuations for all five children amounted to 2.59, which the court rounded up to three total children. This gave Johnson a total household size of five, three children plus Johnson and her current husband. Johnson appealed the bankruptcy court’s ruling based on the court’s determination of the children’s valuation.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Agee, J.)

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Dissent (Wilkinson, J.)

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