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Does Bankruptcy Affect Child Support Payments?

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Statistics published by the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) indicate that states collected approximately $32 billion in fiscal year 2018 alone on behalf of the nearly 15 million children who are served by child support enforcement programs across the country. More than $1.4 billion dollars in child support was distributed to families right here in Florida.

Every parent would ideally meet the financial responsibilities they have for their children, but the reality is that sometimes parents find themselves falling short of being able to maintain those obligations. Unfortunately, parents who are facing serious debts often also find themselves unable to pay child support payments. When considering bankruptcy, parents in this position often have one important question in mind: what happens to my child support payments if I file?

Understanding How Bankruptcy Affects Child Support Payments

Bankruptcy can be an ideal solution for those suffering from a substantial financial burden as it offers multiple pathways for preventing most creditors from collecting debts. However, while the bankruptcy code may offer different options for relief for individuals, they all share the same problem for a debtor who is hoping to find relief from child support payments – none of the bankruptcy pathways will halt any obligations stipulated by most child support procedures. In plain terms, you generally can’t use bankruptcy to eliminate past-due child support even if you file for bankruptcy successfully. All of this does not mean, however, that bankruptcy is not still an invaluable source of potential help for parents seeking bankruptcy who are also financially strained by their child support obligations.

Types of Bankruptcy

Any individual who is seeking relief from debt through the bankruptcy process will do so either under a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy and that includes anyone who is also financially unstable when it comes to meeting child support obligations. The courts take child support obligations very seriously and as opposed to relieving parents of this duty, they instead will often formulate an alternate plan. Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, any outstanding child support obligations are considered priority debts which means they will be one of the first reconciled out of any available proceeds. Chapter 13 bankruptcy works slightly differently. In particular, arrangements made in regard to child support under Chapter 13 allow for a debtor to pay back child support payments through a repayment plan.

Turn to Us for Help

While it may be disappointing to learn that you can’t relieve yourself of your obligation to pay child support by filing bankruptcy, the bright side of this is that doesn’t mean you are out of options. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you learn more about what financial options may be possible in your individual situation so your best bet is to reach out to a qualified legal team for advice you can depend on. As the Plantation bankruptcy attorneys at Nowack & Olson, PLLC, we have been helping people find solutions for discharging debt through bankruptcy for more than forty years altogether. We provide free consultations for people who are considering bankruptcy and personalized advice for individual circumstances. Get in touch with us now to begin discussing how you can achieve a better financial outlook.

Resource:

ncsl.org/research/human-services/state-data-on-child-support-collections.aspx

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