Filing for bankruptcy is a legal action that seeks the discharge of an individual’s debts. It is essentially a statement that their financial situation makes it impossible for them to meet their obligations, and looks to the bankruptcy court to allow them to start fresh. There are two different types of bankruptcy filing, with Chapter 13 allowing the individual to pay their in a more extended way or reducing the interest charged or amount owed, and Chapter 7 eliminating their debt entirely. In both types of bankruptcy filing, child support is not considered dischargeable and the individual is expected to continue to meet their family obligations.

The bankruptcy courts have acknowledged that certain categories of debt cannot be dismissed, and the obligation to pay child support is one of them. In fact, it is considered so important that a person filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy must provide proof to the court that they are up-to-date on all domestic support obligations before a discharge will be granted.

For many ex-spouses of people filing for bankruptcy, the fact that an obligation to pay child support will continue is a point made moot by the fact that their ex has long skipped those payments. That’s why the bankruptcy rules for child support go beyond ensuring that they continue to stand and placing child support debt in front of all other creditors in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. That means that any assets that your ex is required to relinquish or sell as part of their bankruptcy filing will go towards resolving any shortfall in previous support payments that are owed you. Payments to your child will go in front of credit card companies, mortgage companies, car loans and all other debts. Of course, there is a chance that there are no assets available with which to pay off outstanding debt, but whatever value exists will be distributed to your child first, and if your ex’s filing is a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and they have child support arrears, the back payments will be incorporated into their monthly Chapter 13 plan payment until the debt is satisfied.

It makes perfect sense for a parent to worry that the support their child relies upon would be impacted by their ex-spouse’s bankruptcy filing. For more information on how bankruptcy impacts this and other family issues, contact us today.

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