922 F.2d 1513 (10th Cir. 1991), 90-7002, Watkins v. Watkins

Docket Nº:90-7002.
Citation:922 F.2d 1513
Party Name:Janet WATKINS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Gregory L. WATKINS, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:January 14, 1991
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Page 1513

922 F.2d 1513 (10th Cir. 1991)

Janet WATKINS, Plaintiff-Appellant,


Gregory L. WATKINS, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 90-7002.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

January 14, 1991

Austin R. Deaton, Jr. of Deaton & Davison, Ada, Okl., for plaintiff-appellant.

Richard C. Lerblance, Hartshorne, Okl., for defendant-appellee.

Before LOGAN, SEYMOUR and TACHA, Circuit Judges.

LOGAN, Circuit Judge.

Janet Watkins and Gregory Watkins divorced in Oklahoma in 1986. One of the assets, apparently owned in joint tenancy by the two parties, was a tract of commercial real estate in the same county as that in which the divorce proceedings were held. The divorce decree set aside, in a formal judgment of the court, the commercial real estate as a separate property to the husband, because it contained his dental office. It awarded the wife alimony to be paid over a certain period of time and "impressed and imposed upon the real property ... a lien in favor of the [wife] guaranteeing satisfaction of the award which is hereby reduced to judgment." R. tab 26, exh. A, at 703.

Page 1514

This judgment was on record pre-bankruptcy in the office of the clerk of the district court. 1

After the ex-husband filed a voluntary petition in bankruptcy, the ex-wife filed a copy of the divorce judgment as a lien in the county clerk's office. Although the ex-husband listed the debt as unsecured, the ex-wife apparently made no appearance and the bankruptcy court never specifically treated the ex-wife's alleged lien in the bankruptcy proceeding itself. The instant proceeding arose out of the ex-husband's motion to reopen the bankruptcy case and to have the lien declared null and void.

The bankruptcy court invalidated the lien. This was affirmed on appeal, the district court holding that, because the divorce judgment had not been filed in the county clerk's office at the time of the bankruptcy filing, the lien was unenforceable. See 12 Okla.Stat.Ann. Sec. 706 ("No judgment, whether rendered by a court of the state or the United States, shall be a lien on the real estate of a judgment debtor in any county until it has been filed in this manner.") The ex-wife has appealed, arguing that that statute is not relevant under various grounds and asserting that her lien is valid and her claim secured by the lien must be excepted from the discharge. We agree, and reverse the determination...

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