How Bankruptcy Affects Child Support Obligations



Hi. Matt McArthur, bankruptcy attorney here at Clear Counsel Law Group. There seems to be a little confusion out there regarding domestic support obligations and bankruptcy.

The question that I received not too long ago from a concerned mother who was receiving domestic support payments was that her ex-spouse had filed for bankruptcy, and she was worried that, not only would the back due child support stop coming, but that continued ongoing child support payments would stop and she would have an extreme difficulty in providing for the well-being of her child.

What I told her and what I'll tell you now is that bankruptcy is not an effective means of addressing domestic support obligations, and the reason is twofold.


Why Bankruptcy Isn't Effective

First, domestic financial obligations, debts that have accrued in this area of liability, cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy. What that means is that at the end of a bankruptcy when the final order comes in that is called the discharge that typically wipes out the debt of the person that filed bankruptcy, it doesn't touch or affect domestic support obligations.

The second reason why bankruptcy isn't going to be much help for a person that's filing for bankruptcy and trying to deal with domestic support obligations through that vehicle, is that there is an exception to what we call the automatic stay for domestic support obligations.


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The automatic stay is the collections freeze that stops creditors from collecting against debtors. This typically goes into place at the outset of a bankruptcy case, and stops all collections actions. However, the exception for domestic payment obligations allows a creditor to continue to collect if they're owed this type of debt.


A Single Parent Doesn't Need to Worry

So not only can this debt not be wiped out at the end of the bankruptcy case, when the case is first filed, the person filing has no protections from being collected against for this type of debt. If you're a single mother or a mother concerned about receiving ongoing domestic support obligations, you shouldn't be worried because the bankruptcy is not going to affect your ability to continue to receive payments.

On the other hand, if you're a person trying to address back due child support or alimony payments that are owed, your best bet is to seek recourse in the family law court, where the order was first issued for that domestic support obligation.

Outside of that, bankruptcy court is not going to help you, so your best bet is to seek a qualified family law attorney, ask their advice on how to best modify or adjust what is currently owed.

This is Matt McArthur, bankruptcy attorney at Clear Counsel Law Group. If you have any questions about this, I'd be happy to speak with you and our phone number here at Clear Counsel Law Group, by the way is 702-476-5900. Please give me a call and I'll be happy to speak with you. Until next time.


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