United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
STARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on appeal from the Judgment in
favor of Appellee Allen Conway Colin entered by the United
States Bankruptcy Court of the Middle District of Alabama
(“Bankruptcy Court”) on August 16, 2016. For the
reasons stated below, the Court reverses and remands the
judgment of the Bankruptcy Court with instructions to enter
judgment in favor of Appellant Sara Edwards.
Sara Edwards (“Appellant”) and Appellee Allen
Conway Colin (“Appellee”) were married in 1982,
and Appellee filed for divorce in 2014. (Bankruptcy Court
Opinion [2-17] at pp. 1-2.) At the time, Appellee was an
electrician averaging between $75, 000 and $80, 000 a year in
income. (See Trial Transcript [6-3] at 8:11-15.)
Appellant did not hold a full-time job during the marriage
and was, at the time of divorce, the primary caregiver for
her mother, who is afflicted with Alzheimer's disease.
(See Bankruptcy Court Opinion [2-17] at p. 2.)
January 2015, through her attorney, Appellant wrote
Appellee's attorney, with a demand of half his retirement
account and monthly alimony of $1, 250.00 for ten years.
(See Id. at p. 2.) Appellee, through his attorney,
countered with an offer of $350.00 in monthly alimony for
five years and $10, 000 from his retirement account. (See
id.) Both sides remained at these figures until their
mediation on April 30, 2015. (See id.) This
mediation lasted several hours, and the parties remained
deadlocked over alimony. (See Id. at p. 3.)
of this impasse, the mediator proposed “that the
alimony be reclassified as property settlement and reduced to
$750.00 per month, ” which appealed to Appellant because it
could not be modified and because it would not be taxable to
her,  and appealed to Appellee because it was a
lesser amount per month. (Id.) The mediator drafted
an agreement outlining the terms of the Settlement, one of
which was the waiving of alimony. (See id.)
filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy on September 9, 2015,
proposing to pay Appellee “as a non-priority creditor
out of a ‘pot' of $10, 350.00.” (Id.
at p. 4.) Appellant asserted a claim for $87, 750.00,
contending that her claim was entitled to priority as a
domestic support obligation and objecting to Appellee's
proposed plan. (See id.) The Bankruptcy Court
entered judgment against Appellant on August 16, 2016,
finding that the Settlement was a property settlement, not
alimony, and therefore not a domestic support obligation.
Appellant timely appealed.
filed her initial Brief  on January 26, 2017. Appellee
responded with his Response Brief  on February 24, 2017.
Appellant's Reply Brief  was filed on March 30, 2017,
and Appellee responded with his own Reply Brief  on March
27, 2017. On March 28, 2017, Appellant filed her Motion to
Strike Reply Brief of Appellee (“Motion to
Strike”) . Appellee never responded to this motion.
considering the submissions of the parties, the record, and
the applicable law, the Court is now ready to rule.
II. MOTION TO STRIKE 
Motion to Strike , Appellant requests that the Court
strike from consideration Appellee's Reply Brief .
The filing of such a brief by the Appellee is not allowed
under Federal Rule of Bankruptcy 8014, and this brief was
filed without leave from this Court. As such, the Court finds
that the Motion to Strike  should be granted.
Appellee's Reply Brief  will be stricken from
A. Standard of Review
Court reviews the Bankruptcy Court's conclusions of law
de novo, while it reviews findings of fact for clear
error. Jove Eng'g, Inc. v. Internal Revenue
Serv., 92 F.3d 1539, 1545 (11th Cir. 1996). A finding of
fact “is clearly erroneous when, although there is
evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire
evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a
mistake has ...