A Closer Look: Can You File Bankruptcy on Child Support?

May 8, 2024

If you’re thinking about filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, it’s absolutely essential to understand the relationship between filing for bankruptcy and child support obligations. While filing bankruptcy (specifically Chapter 13) won’t help you discharge child support payments that are past-due, it can potentially help you get caught up.
Continue reading to learn more about how child support is treated amidst bankruptcy proceedings (including how it affects arrears and ongoing payments), the differences between the chapters in this context as well as what you should know about the legal implications.

How Does Bankruptcy Affect Child Support

The Status of Child Support in Bankruptcy

The courts treat child support payments as a priority debt that’s considered among Domestic Support Obligations (DSOs). That means you can’t discharge them and must pay in full, regardless of the bankruptcy chapter you file.
Non-compliance can lead to significant consequences, up to jail time. With that in mind, it’s generally in your best interest to carefully consider your options, continue making child support payments and seek the guidance of a proven legal professional to navigate your specific financial situation more effectively.

Ongoing Child Support and Bankruptcy

When a debtor files for bankruptcy, ongoing child support payments must continue as they were. Bankruptcy does not alter or reduce the amount of child support owed. It’s a common misconception that “can bankruptcy stop child support?” or filing for bankruptcy can change child support obligations (i.e., reduce payments, eliminate certain parts, forgive missed payments, etc.).
However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Understanding how filing bankruptcy can affect your finances and ability to pay or repay child support is essential before considering bankruptcy as a viable option. Contact us today to speak with a Florida debt relief attorney you can trust.

Comparing Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Impact

While filing Chapter 7 (i.e., liquidation bankruptcy) won’t do much for past due child support payments, it could help you make your payments by eliminating other types of debts you owe.
Similarly, when you file for Chapter 13, you’re still required to repay any outstanding child support payments. However, under Chapter 13, you can include past due child support payments in your repayment plan. It’s important to note that this type of debt can’t be reduced and must be repaid throughout your repayment plan.
Understanding the nuances of bankruptcy child support in both chapters is essential for those considering bankruptcy as an option.

Can You File Bankruptcy on Child Support?:

The question of “can you file bankruptcy on child support?” is incredibly complex. That’s because you can’t legally discharge child support obligations through bankruptcy. Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 treat child support as a priority debt, meaning you’re obligated to pay them in full.
However, it’s important to note that bankruptcy can help you manage other kinds of debts, which may potentially make it easier to keep up with child support payments. However, it doesn’t directly alter, reduce or eliminate child support obligations.

Legal Framework Surrounding Child Support in Bankruptcy

At the end of the day, both the state and federal government prioritize your child’s wellbeing over anything else. For that reason, child support payments can’t be discharged via bankruptcy. This helps ensure your child’s basic needs are still met, regardless of the debts their parent’s owe. If you want to challenge or reduce current child support payments, you’ll need to do so in family law court.

Navigating Bankruptcy When Owing Child Support

Facing bankruptcy while owing child support is a unique challenge that requires careful contemplation. Before and during the bankruptcy process, it’s in your best interest to take the following steps:

  1. Consult with a bankruptcy law firm that’s experienced with child support payments.
  2. Continue making on-time child support payments throughout the process.
  3. Include any arrears in your bankruptcy filing documentation (when filing Chapter 13).
  4. Explore opportunities to modify your child support payments if your finances have undergone a significant change.

Continue reading to learn the importance of consulting with a proven bankruptcy attorney for child support payments.

Consulting with an Expert

Bankruptcy is already complicated. Adding child support to the mix makes the situation even more complex. When you consult with a bankruptcy lawyer, they can help you navigate bankruptcy and child support in a number of ways, including but not limited to:

  • Offer insights into how does bankruptcy affect child support obligations.
  • Strategize ways to reach the best possible outcome.
  • Help you navigate both federal and state laws regarding bankruptcy child support.
  • Advocate for your best interest and protect your rights.
  • Provide advice about alternative debt relief options.

Not paying child support can result in devastating consequences. Thus, it’s recommended that you consult with an attorney for expert guidance that’s tailored to your circumstances.

Ensuring Child Support Compliance

At the end of the day, bankruptcy doesn’t affect child support payments. As such, continued compliance during the bankruptcy process isn’t just a legal obligation, it’s a moral one. If you want to ensure you remain compliant, it’s important to:

  • Keep detailed records of all payments you’ve made and missed.
  • Communicate frankly with your bankruptcy trustee and the child support agency.
  • Seek modifications of payments when applicable.

Regularly consulting with your bankruptcy attorney can help navigate these complexities and ensure that you stay on the right side of the law amidst your financial rehabilitation.

Contact The Attorney Debt Fighters

Whether you’re pondering “How does filing bankruptcy affect child support?” or you have a question that’s related to other non-dischargeable debts (i.e., alimony, student loans, etc.), our attorneys are here to help you every step of the way. From filing bankruptcy paperwork, to negotiating with creditors, to explaining the ins and outs of including child support arrears in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, we’ve got your back.
Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation with a Florida debt relief lawyer you can trust.

author avatar
Michael Ziegler
Ziegler Diamond Law: Debt Fighters, provides effective legal services to consumers in Clearwater, Florida, and throughout the Tampa Bay area who are facing home foreclosure, unmanageable debts, debt collector harassment, or other debt-related problems.

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About the Author

Ziegler Diamond Law: Debt Fighters, provides effective legal services to consumers in Clearwater, Florida, and throughout the Tampa Bay area who are facing home foreclosure, unmanageable debts, debt collector harassment, or other debt-related problems.