Some people still believe that bankruptcy wipes out all their financial obligations including child support. While many paying parents may wish this were true, the truth is, bankruptcy doesn’t wipe out back owed child support or change a future obligation to pay. The good news is, after bankruptcy paying child support may be easier to handle and it might allow you to get caught up with your payments.
Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies will not eliminate a paying parent’s obligation to pay child support. Unlike other actions to collect on back owed debt, the automatic stay provided to consumers after filing bankruptcy does not apply to child support obligations. This means that efforts to collect back owed child support will continue even after bankruptcy has been filed by the paying parent.
Many times, bankruptcy filers are under extreme hardship and have exhausted every means possible to pay their debts. While bankruptcy cannot discharge support payments, the hardship that led to it may be reason enough to file an order for modification. A judge can order a modification in child support to meet the needs of both the child and the parent suffering financial difficulties.
If a paying parent stops making timely child support payments without a court order, even after filing bankruptcy, the court may use other means to collect the back owed support. Even though bankruptcy cannot eliminate a child support obligation or stop its collection, there is a unique and complex relationship between arrears support payments and bankruptcy. For information about how to file bankruptcy or on your rights as a child support payer, speaking to an attorney may help.