Child Support and Bankruptcy

When financial stress forces you to file for bankruptcy, child-support payment obligations remain in place and are not dischargeable by filing for bankruptcy.  All expenses that are considered as ‘in the nature of support’ for your child like those spent in the child’s welfare, medical care and upbringing, are also not dischargeable in the event of bankruptcy.

Case of ex-spouse paying child support:

If you are an ex-spouse paying child support, whatever expenses you owe - back child-support and the current amounts you owe - whatever is due is still your responsibility and you have to pay them.  And supposing there are any debts incurred to meet the ‘in the nature of support’ expenses - like expenses incurred towards meeting medical expenses and routine care, those debts also need to be paid by you, and bankruptcy does not absolve you from paying these charges.

Effect of stay orders on child support:

In case you are a provider of child support and you have filed for bankruptcy, under a Chapter 7 stay, action can still be taken to ensure that you pay for your child support. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy may provide you a temporary stay from payments towards child support. But any stay is only temporary.

Bankruptcy ensures payment of child support:

Actually if you happen to want to genuinely pay for the child support but had been unable to because of other payments, bankruptcy is the best option for you. Once you file for bankruptcy, you can prioritize the child support payment as required by the law and pay it first and you are given time to pay other debts subsequently.

Whatever income you receive automatically goes first to meet the child support, while other debts take backstage. Bankruptcy filed under both the Chapters 7 &13 ensures that child support is paid at the first instance. Even property exempt from the claims of creditors and lenders can be used for enforcing the child support payments.

Case of ex-spouse receiving child support:

If you are collecting child support, filing for bankruptcy will not protect the ex-spouse/child-support giver from paying the back or current child support. Filing for bankruptcy is not an escape route from payment of child support. Child support has to be paid before paying even those debtors who have initiated the action. The receiving spouse can seek legal recourse for speedy and regular payment of child support.

Payment of child support - back, current and future support:

After bankruptcy is filed, especially under Chapter 13, child support payment becomes an essential part of the reorganization of debt plan. Non-payment of back, current and future child support may nullify the bankruptcy and penalties may be imposed. All other obligations - payday loans, credit cards or medical bills - take a back seat and the highest priority is to the back, current and future child support payments.

As per government rules, ‘domestic support obligations’ take precedence. When you file for bankruptcy, the actual fact is that as a provider ex-spouse/parent, you are still responsible for back or current future payments towards those obligations. 

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