Bankruptcy and Child Support
Whether a parent is paying child support or receiving it, they might wonder how a possible bankruptcy could affect their responsibilities or ability to care for their children. Perhaps this question is based on a common misconception in which filing for bankruptcy relieves a parent of their duty to pay child support. To be clear, courts place a high value on the obligation of parents to financially provide for their children. Therefore, a bankruptcy generally will not relieve a parent of their duties to pay child support. Given the complex dynamic between bankruptcy and child support, however, individuals are strongly encouraged to contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney for guidance and help with their case.
According to Find Law, when filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy or Chapter 7 bankruptcy, debts “in the nature of support” cannot be discharged. These debts are those incurred relating to the welfare and upbringing of a child (medical bills are an example). However, if a parent has fallen behind on their child support payments before filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, they can use the bankruptcy to restructure their debts and develop a plan to catch up on missed payments. Child support payments are considered “priority debts,” and are placed ahead of other debts.
Without question, the issue of child support in bankruptcy is unique, and this explains why the automatic stay doesn’t apply in such cases. In other words, while the automatic stay prohibits creditors from harassing individuals after they file for bankruptcy, it does not prevent intervention in order to obtain or modify an order for child support. Even if a person completes a bankruptcy case and is discharged, they are still responsible for all child support payments.
If you are considering bankruptcy, yet you have questions pertaining to child support, Gingold & Gingold, LLC, will provide the personal attention and experience you need. Call today to schedule a free initial consultation!