In re: DeGroot, No. 11-8083 (6th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
The DeGroots divorced; Joel was ordered to pay child support. The court awarded Joy the residence and ordered Joy to pay $48,000 for Joel’s equity in installments. Joy paid $10,000.00. Joel later filed a no-asset chapter 7 petition, listing Joy’s claim of $10,336.33 for unpaid support and medical bills, but not listing the receivable or the lien as assets. Following negotiations, of which the trustee was aware, Joy waived claims to support and Joel released his lien. Neither sought relief from the stay. The Trustee filed notice claiming ownership of the lien for the estate (11 U.S.C. 541(a)(1)). Joy did not receive notice and, when the trustee notified creditors that there might be assets, did not file a claim because she believed it extinguished by the settlement. The trustee later reported no assets and the case closed. Joy attempted to refinance her mortgage and discovered the assignment of lien. The case was reopened (11 U.S.C. 350(b)). The Trustee agreed to subordinate his lien to that of the mortgage company in exchange for $5,000.00. The bankruptcy court concluded that, while the trustee may administer the $5,000.00, the balance should be deemed abandoned under 11 U.S.C. 554(c) and (d). The Bankruptcy Panel of the Sixth Circuit affirmed.