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According to most courts, both parents are responsible for the financial needs of their children. In most cases in Florida, and in other states, the court takes that responsibility seriously and does not often grant reprieves in fulfilling it. In some cases, however, parents may become overwhelmed with bills and financial obligations and realize their need to file bankruptcy. Whether a person is collecting child support from the other parent or paying child support, it is important to know how bankruptcy will affect him or her.

While most of a person’s debts can be claimed in a bankruptcy case, that is not the case with child support. Generally, a child support payment is not exempt in bankruptcy and therefore cannot be discharged. While bankruptcy can act as a stay or a hold on a foreclosure, repossession and other debts, it is not so with child support. A parent cannot use bankruptcy to stop paying child support while paternity is established or child support obligations are reviewed.

Some parents may find that their financial situation changes after they have agreed to a divorce decree or been ordered to make child support payments. The loss of a job, injury, the birth of another child and many other life events could cause the parent to have less money than anticipated. In this case, a judge may change the original judgment and allow the parent’s future child support payments to be reduced. This does not affect child support payments that are in arrears.

If someone is behind on his or her child support, bankruptcy will not usually affect that either. Even if he or she files bankruptcy, the money that is owed on back child support cannot be exempt. Filing bankruptcy will take some of the financial pressure off in other areas, allowing more money to be allotted to child support, but it will not take away the responsibility for past or future payments.

Parents who are paying child support in Florida and are considering bankruptcy may choose to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer. This attorney can advise the parent in the best way to lessen his or her financial burden so that child support becomes easier to pay. While bankruptcy cannot be discharged, other debts can, and this will lighten the load so that child support is not such a burden on the parent.

Source: findlaw.com, “Child Support and Bankruptcy“, Aug. 20, 2017