Deciding to file for bankruptcy is a momentous decision. From one perspective it represents a significant step toward an improved quality of life and a future free of stresses your friends, colleagues and family may have been unaware that you were living with. On the other hand, it represents an embarrassing admission that things have gone terribly wrong. In both cases, it is similar to filing for divorce, which is ironic because one of the most frequently asked questions about bankruptcy is about how it will impact the arrangements that agreed to when a couple has split. The short and simple answer is that your bankruptcy will have almost no impact on those arrangements, as neither child support payments nor alimony payments are dischargeable.

When you file for bankruptcy you have the opportunity to discharge many of your debts — but not all of them. There are certain types and categories of debts and creditors that are notable exceptions, and one of these is family obligations. If you have agreed to an alimony payment or spousal support to your ex, your obligation to pay them support will continue, no matter how dire the financial situation that you present to the bankruptcy court. In fact, if you have past-due spousal support the court may use assets liquidated in the course of bankruptcy to ensure that your ex-spouse is made whole.

There are some situations where a dependent spouse’s alimony payments may be paused during the automatic stay that a bankruptcy filing enacts, but this would be a temporary impact, and it would not affect any court-ordered wage garnishments that are used to pay child or spousal support.  This is particularly good news for those who are on the receiving end of alimony payments, who may fear that their ex would use bankruptcy as a means of escaping their obligation. By the same token, a dependent spouse who receives alimony payments and who chooses to seek bankruptcy is required to report those payments as income as part of their filing.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy and have additional questions about how doing so would affect your ability to uphold your other obligations, our experienced attorneys can help. Contact us today to set up a time for us to meet and discuss your situation.

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