How Will Bankruptcy Proceedings Affect Child Support?

Whether a Maryland parent is on the receiving or paying end of child support, a bankruptcy ruling could affect those payments. Depending on one’s unique situation and financial circumstances, though, a bankruptcy ruling could affect child support obligations in different ways.

For example, what if an ex-spouse declares bankruptcy and tries to say that he or she is no longer responsible for child support payments? Generally speaking, this is not possible because monthly support obligations cannot be discharged or placed on hold through bankruptcy. If a spouse tries to use bankruptcy proceedings as an excuse for not paying the support, then state courts can apply various legal methodologies to enforce that payment — whether it be wage garnishing, income tax return confiscation, or the threat of arrest.

What about unpaid back child support? Can this get wiped out through the bankruptcy process? The answer to this question is most definitely, “no.” Unpaid support, just like other categories of debt, cannot be dissolved through bankruptcy proceedings. In certain circumstances, if an ex-spouse is no longer able to afford his or her child support due to financial problems, the ex-spouse can petition the court to modify and reduce his or her monthly obligations. However, even if this happens, it will not affect any amount of child support that was previously owed.

Maryland residents who want to know more about how their bankruptcy filing — or an ex-spouse’s bankruptcy filing — might affect their child support decree may wish to speak with a family law and bankruptcy law attorney. Indeed, those who are behind on support obligations, who also have large outstanding debts in addition to their support owed, might benefit from bankruptcy proceedings. While child support debt cannot be dissolved through bankruptcy, by resolving other types of debt it could serve to free up income and capital to better meet one’s support obligations in the future.

Source: FindLaw, “Child support and bankruptcy” Oct. 06, 2014