When you are struggling with child support debt or other domestic support obligations, filing for bankruptcy may seem like an attractive option, but it is important to understand that child support obligations are not dischargeable or eliminated in bankruptcy court proceedings, regardless of if you declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 11 bankruptcy, or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
In other words, any unpaid child support payments or missed payments that you owe will remain after your bankruptcy is complete. However, it is still important to know how bankruptcy affects child support debt. In this article, we will discuss the rules regarding bankruptcy and paying child support, so you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.
Bankruptcy Does Not Stop Child Support Payments
Any outstanding child support arrears are treated differently in a bankruptcy proceeding than other types of debts. This is because child support debts are considered to be priority debts over all other creditors, and a priority debt must be paid before any other debt is considered for discharge or elimination.
Not only are child support arrearages considered to be a priority debt, but they also must be paid before other priority debts such as taxes or alimony. This means that even if you are able to successfully discharge your other debts through bankruptcy, you may still be required to pay the full amount of your child support arrearages before any other debt is considered for discharge in bankruptcy court.
Bankruptcy Does Not Prevent Child Support
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there is an automatic stay which generally prevents creditors from taking any action to collect money from you, including things like garnishing wages. However, it’s important to know that a bankruptcy case will not delay or prevent a lawsuit to establish child support or other judgments related to a child support order specifically, and it will not prevent collection from property that is not part of your bankruptcy estate. Additionally, bankruptcy may not stop wage garnishment or lien enforcement actions taken by the government to collect child support or back child support payments.
Bankruptcy Can Free Up Money to Pay Child Support
Even though bankruptcy won’t forgive any missed child support payments or past due child support, filing for bankruptcy can still be a great strategy for managing debt and improving your financial situation so that you can afford any ongoing child support payments.
For example, if you are unable to pay your child support due to debts from other unsecured creditors, filing for bankruptcy can help give you a fresh start and eliminate unsecured debts caused by things such as credit card debt, medical bills, or other creditors. This can free up more money in your budget that can be used towards your child support obligation.
Get a Free Initial Consultation at Joshi Law Group
An experienced bankruptcy attorney at Joshi Law Group can help you understand the specifics of your bankruptcy & child support situation, and provide advice on how to handle any past due child support payments before filing for bankruptcy. We offer a free initial consultation where we can discuss the options available to you, including ways to negotiate a payment plan with the court or other strategies for dealing with your debt. When life happens, Joshi Law Group is here to help!
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support & Bankruptcy
Is child support dischargeable in bankruptcy?
No, child support is not discharged or eliminated through bankruptcy proceedings. However, other debts like medical debt, credit card debt, and other unsecured creditors may be discharged through bankruptcy, which can help free up more money to pay your child support.
Can I negotiate a repayment plan for my child support debt?
Yes, it is possible to negotiate a payment plan, such as structured monthly payments, with the court for past due child support payments, but it is not possible to discharge or eliminate any of the debt through bankruptcy. An experienced attorney at Joshi Law Group can provide advice and guidance on this process.
Can bankruptcy stop wage garnishment for child support?
No, filing for bankruptcy will not prevent or delay a wage garnishment related to unpaid child support payments or even future payments. It is also important to note that any payments made through a wage garnishment are considered priority debts and must be paid before other creditors, such as credit card companies, in the event of a bankruptcy filing.
Give Us a Call Today!
If you have any other questions about how bankruptcy can affect your child support payments or obligations, contact an experienced bankruptcy law attorney today at Joshi Law Group to discuss your situation and get the help you need. We look forward to hearing from you!