Bankruptcy and Child Support


Your bankruptcy attorney will explain that individuals who are paying child support and dealing with other financial burdens may be considering filing bankruptcy as a solution to their financial woes. This may be a good option, depending on your individual situation but filing bankruptcy will likely not erase any financial obligations you have to your children.

The Purpose of Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy do not act as an eraser to remove all your obligations; it has no effect on child support in most situations. This also includes the automatic stay. A stay order goes into effect the minute someone files a bankruptcy and puts a hold on most of their financial responsibilities until the case is over or is decided by the bankruptcy court. While a stay will prevent a credit card company from tracking down a debtor and trying to seek payment, it will not stop any child support obligations and if you're already in arrears they amount you owe will continue to accumulate.

As we mentioned, if someone is in arrears with their child support and files for bankruptcy, not only do their current support debts continue accumulating but the amount they're in arrears remains; that debt will not be erased. In addition, any debts that you have incurred that are related to supporting your children will not be discharged when your bankruptcy is finalized. It depends on your situation, but this could make up a large percentage of your debt and mean that bankruptcy may not be the best option after all. Speaking with an attorney who is well versed in bankruptcy and child support cases is a good way to establish your current position and determine a solution.

Changes in Child Support Payments

There is one way your financial situation can change the amount you owe in child support. If you have suffered a financial set back, say the loss of a job or a demotion, then you can apply to the courts to have your child support reduced. This type of situation sometimes coincides with a bankruptcy but it's not the bankruptcy court that determines a reduce child support payment, it's the family services courts. Your bankruptcy attorney can further explain, but in a situation where someone cannot pay their bills the bankruptcy does not decrease support obligations, but he situation itself may call for a reduction in support.