Child support enforces parental obligation and keeps many children out of poverty. Courts take this obligation very seriously and will not relieve parents of this duty. This means that a parent who owes child support cannot escape this duty by filing for bankruptcy. It also means that bankruptcy does not act as a stay or hold on support payments.
This can sound daunting to someone facing stacks of bills they cannot pay, are behind in child support, and are facing bankruptcy, but there is hope. Filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is a second chance. Bankruptcy expunges other significant debts like medical bills and credit card bills, giving parents a chance to get control of child support.
Certain debts are viewed as priorities and child support is at the top of the list. This obligation is considered non-dischargeable and a “priority” which means it is one of the first debts that must be paid to creditors.
In Chapter 7, most debts are wiped out. This gives a debtor money to pay child support. In Chapter 13, debts are repaid through a Chapter 13 repayment plan. Child support is paid in part over a period of time (three to five years). It is important to note that bankruptcy does not act as a stay, or hold on payments. At the end of the Chapter 13 repayment plan, any amount remaining must be paid in full.
Bankruptcy, divorce, and child support are intertwined and complicated. It is best to consult attorneys experienced in bankruptcy law. That is our specialty. Please my office for more on this topic.