In midst of custody battle, woman files for bankruptcy

By Lawrence Smith | Apr 29, 2011

Ballard CHARLESTON – Though wanting custody of her ex-boyfriend's daughter, a Charleston woman has admitted to having no income and very little assets.


CHARLESTON – Though wanting custody of her ex-boyfriend's daughter, a Charleston woman has admitted to having no income and very little assets.

Brooke Ballard on March 31 filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In her petition, Ballard lists $28,500 in assets and $209,736.05 in liabilities.

Known as "liquidation" bankruptcy, Chapter 7 allows the debtor, an individual, couple or business, to sell all non-exempt property via a court-appointed trustee to pay off creditors. One stipulation is that the debtor must receive approved credit counseling at his or her own expense.

According to her petition, Ballard's largest asset is a 2008 Volvo valued at $21,750. The company that helped her finance purchase it, Chase Bank, is listed as her largest creditor with secured claims at $33,000.

Aside from $63,354.33 in student loan debt, Ballard owes $115,381.72 to creditors with unsecured, nonpriority claims. Most appear to be from lines of credit, installment accounts and credit cards Ballard's ex-boyfriend, Donald Ray Carter II, used in conjunction with his business Carter Sales and Service in Hurricane.

Carter and Carter Sales and Service are listed as co-debtors in Ballard's petition.

Also in her petition, Ballard avers that prior to being hired for an unspecified position with Kanawha County Schools on March 15, she had no income for the last two years. Because of that, Ballard asked the filing fee of $299 be waived.

Ballard's petition came a week following a hearing in Kanawha Circuit Court on a petition Carter filed to prohibit enforcement of Kanawha Family Law Judge Mike Kelly's March 8 awarding her joint custody of his daughter, Alexys Paige Carter. In his writ filed a week earlier, Carter maintained Kelly not only lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case, but also enabled Ballard to use the state's guardianship laws as a back-door way to gain custody of Alexys.

The case has subsequently been sealed by Judge Paul Zakaib.

In her petition, Ballard listed her address between 2007 and 2009 as Riverstone Drive in Poca. Since 2009, she has lived on Park Avenue in Charleston.

In the section of the petition where she's asked to list all suits and administrative proceedings for which she's been a party in the previous year, Ballard does not list Carter's writ of prohibition. The writ, which was filed as a miscellaneous civil filing, and obtained by The West Virginia Record prior to Zakaib sealing the file, lists Ballard as a co-defendant with Kelly.

Though she lists two collection suits filed against her in Kanawha Circuit Court – one filed last April by Citibank of South Dakota which also lists her with the alias of Brooke Carter, and another filed in January by Chase regarding the Volvo that names Carter Sales and Service as a co-defendant, Ballard does not list two other pending suits. One was filed in January by Ford Motor Credit seeking $15,000 for defaulting in a line of credit used to purchase a 2008 Ford F-250 pick-up truck, and another from last April by Colonial Pacific Leasing Corporation wanting $84,765.01 as accelerated payments on a Skytrak rough terrain forklift.

In the latter suit, records show retired Putnam Circuit Judge James Holliday, who was appointed to hear Judge James Stucky's cases during his brief illness, granted a motion by Colonial's attorneys on Sept. 2 for notice of publication of the suit after Carter Sales and Service closed its location on Teays Valley Road "several months prior to the attempted service."

Attempts to reach Ballard's attorney, Marshall Spradling, about the missing information were unsuccessful as he was not immediately available for comment.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number 11-bk-20254

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