Child support and bankruptcy: What do you need to know?

| Apr 13, 2020 | Family Law

The purpose of child support is not to serve as a punishment for one parent or to reward the other but rather, to ensure the upholding of the child’s best interests. For this reason, the family court system takes child support very seriously and is unlikely to relieve a parent of his or her duty to pay. This is the case even if the payor files for bankruptcy. If you currently have a child support obligation, you may wonder how your insolvency might affect your financial obligation to your child. FindLaw addresses parents’ most pressing concerns regarding this matter. 

A parent cannot discharge child support payments in bankruptcy  

It is not uncommon for many in-debt parents to claim that they cannot afford child support payments on top of additional living expenses. These parents may try to discharge their court-ordered obligation through a Chapter 7 filing. Discharging support payments of any kind through bankruptcy is not possible. 

If you try to skirt your child support responsibilities through bankruptcy, the family court and the state may attempt to enforce payments through drastic measures. Those include garnishing your wages, placing a lien on your property, withholding your tax return and suspending your driver’s license, among other measures. 

Bankruptcy cannot discharge child support arrears 

Not only does bankruptcy not affect future child support payments but also, it cannot help you with child support arrears. If your financial situation drastically changes from the date the court creates the child support order, it is your responsibility to file for a modification to the original order. The sooner you file, the better, as the judge can only modify support payments from the date you file. The courts will still hold you accountable for the full amount of unpaid support. 

You cannot discharge debts “in the nature of support” of your children  

You should also note that it is unlikely you will be able to discharge debts that are related to your child’s upbringing and welfare and that are unrelated to child support. Those include unpaid medical bills, unpaid daycare bills and the like. 

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