By: Scott B. Riddle, Esq.

In In re Adams, Ch. 13 Case No. 06-51651, 2007 Bankr. LEXIS 616 (Bankr. M.D. Ga. March 1, 2007)(Hershner), the debtor husband purchased a new vehicle within 910 days of the filing of his Chapter 13 petition.  In his plan, Debtor proposed to bifurcate the secured lender’s claim into secured and unsecured portions pursuant to 11 U.S.C. §1325(a)(5)(B).  The lender objected on the grounds that the "hanging paragraph" of §1325(a) did not allow such bifurcation.

The evidence showed that the vehicle was purchased by debtor for his spouse, and in fact, it was debtor’s spouse who primarily used the vehicle. Debtor’s wife was listed on the insurance policy as the sole driver and Debtor only drive it two to three times a month.  Debtor and his spouse separated for a few months prior to the bankruptcy filing, at which time debtor was the primary user of the vehicle, but when they reconciled his spouse was the primary driver.

Based upon the language of the "hanging paragraph," the vehicle was not acquired for the primary use of the debtor, and therefore the lender was not protected. Bifurcation of the claim was allowed.