As a Stickney bankruptcy lawyer, I am asked questions every day. One question that I often receive is that related to child support. The prospective client will state that they owe back child support. That will then ask if filing bankruptcy will eliminate that debt.Child support is not eliminated in any form of bankruptcy. Child support is something that needs to be paid either directly or if there is an arrearage, through the Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee. Public policy demands that children are taken care of in this country. If everyone was able to get out of child support by filing bankruptcy, there would probably be double the number of bankruptcy filings in this country. Child support is something that needs to be paid and it needs to be paid going forward otherwise drivers licenses could be suspended and individuals could be brought back into court and held in contempt. If the only debt is child support, then the person may want to consider some of the alternatives to bankruptcy.
In a Chapter 13 case, in order to get a Chapter 13 discharge, you as a debtor must testify to the court that during the course of your Chapter 13, you had not fallen behind in any child support obligations. So you have to be current with your child support going forward, although you do have the ability to re-organize and repay your child support arrearages through a Chapter 13.
In addition to that, the person who is going to receive the child support will receive notice of your bankruptcy filing. That person can contact the trustee in a bankruptcy Chapter 13 case if you are not making current child support payments. That could affect your bankruptcy discharge and it could lead to a Motion to Modify the Automatic Stay if you are not making timely payments to the Chapter 13 trustee.
Thus, whenever you think of child support, think non-dischargeable. Think that it’s not going to go away because it is not going to go away and it never will. If you need help with child support issues, you can seek help from the local bar association. The bar association should have a detailed listing of attorneys that can help in that area. If bankruptcy is not going to help you, then you must work out another type of arrangement. The court is not going to know that you are having issues unless you bring it to the court’s attention.