As attorney Gary Peel seeks relief in bankruptcy court from obligations to former wife Deborah J. Peel, he also seeks relief from obligations to their three children.
A divorce settlement that Gary Peel and Deborah J. Peel signed in 2003 required him to make regular payments to her and obligated his estate to provide for their children.
Gary Peel told a bankruptcy trustee in September that it would not upset him if his children lost their interest in his estate.
In an examination similar to a deposition, he told trustee Laura Grandy that he felt bitter toward his two sons and daughter.
“They all live within five minutes of me, and none of them will talk to me,” he said. “I haven’t seen any of them in over a year.”
Gary Peel saw his older son, David Peel, at a Nov. 16 hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in East St. Louis, but they ignored each other.
Gary Peel sat alone. Across the aisle, David and his brother-in-law sat on either side of Deborah J. Peel.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kenneth Meyers said at the hearing that visiting judge Gerald Fines of Danville would hear the case Feb. 3.
After the hearing, David Peel gave the Record a transcript of Grandy’s Sept. 29 examination of Gary Peel.
Grandy’s job involves squeezing every last dollar out of those in bankruptcy. On Nov. 16, at another hearing, she asked the court to accept a bid that came after a deadline, for a gain of $3,000. “I’m about the money,” she said.
When an attorney accused her of mixing apples and oranges in the bids, she said, “In bankruptcy, we often have apples and oranges, but at the end of the day we see which fruit sells for the most.”
According to the transcript of her examination of Gary Peel, she abruptly switched from a discussion of his salary at the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River.
Grandy asked, “Who is David Peel?”
“I’m sorry?” Peel answered.
“Who is David S. Peel?” she asked.
“He is my oldest son,” Peel said.
“And Jeffrey C. Peel?” she questioned.
“He is my youngest child,” he replied.
“And who is Jennifer Cullen?” Grandy asked.
“She is my daughter. She is the middle child,” Peel said.
Grandy said his bankruptcy petition listed David Peel as a contingent and disputed claim in an unknown amount. She said, “What would that have been for?”
“Under the marital settlement agreement, there is a provision that obligates me to provide for my children as a part of my estate. And so I thought that that is a contingent interest, that if...” Peel said.
“Contingent on there being money?” Grandy asked.
"Contingent on the marital settlement agreement being set aside, because if the marital settlement is set aside or modified, then their interest in receiving that might be adversely impacted,” he replied.
“You don’t owe them any other money for any other reason unrelated to the marital settlement agreement?” Grandy asked.
Peel said, “That is correct, and I am bitter over some of that. All three of them.
“It is a bit frustrating to me. Influenced by someone who is not kind and forgiving and neutral, or at least doesn’t encourage that with the children. And they are certainly old enough to think on their own. I’m a little angry over that.
“I don’t mean to take it out, but I’m venting. So it doesn’t upset me if they are going to lose their interest.”
Next week: Gary Peel’s 800-pound mermaid.