What effect does bankruptcy have on child support?

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child support bankruptcy consumer bankruptcy

What effect does bankruptcy have on child support?

Filing for bankruptcy protection does not allow your ex to discharge past due child support obligations. Any back payments owed for child support cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding. The automatic stay does not apply to child support collection efforts.

Under the post-October 17, 2005 rules, domestic support obligations are top priority in a Chapter 7 “asset case”, where there are funds to pay creditors. The debtor should file a proof of claim to have most of his or her liquidated estate used to pay off the child support obligation.

In a Chapter 13 case, your back child support payments will be paid through your Chapter 13 plan, in addition to the regular payments due after the petition date. These support obligations must be current in order to have your Chapter 13 plan confirmed. Moreover, to obtain a discharge in a Chapter 13 case, the debtor will have to certify that all post-petition child support obligations have been met.

To put it another way, your ex’s bankruptcy case shouldn’t have any long-term effect on child support payments – and may even make it easier for him/her to make them, because he/she won’t have as much other debt – but will complicate enforcement in the short term. Practically speaking, you will need an attorney’s help.

(Reviewed 11.14.08)

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