Frequently Asked Questions: Child Support and Filing for Bankruptcy

Drowning in financial obligations may be a reason to consider filing for bankruptcy. However, it’s important that before making such a significant life decision, you may want to speak with a financial advisor or bankruptcy lawyer. They can review your financials and help you make the right move for your future. Financial challenges can be stressful. Watching the bills pile up with no way to recover can feel hopeless. One aspect that may be particularly challenging is finding yourself unable to make your child support payments as the result of the financial strain you may be under. The following, are frequently asked questions pertaining to child support and filing for bankruptcy:

What type of bankruptcy chapter should I choose?

When considering bankruptcy, chances are you will be pondering the type of chapter you should file for. Discussing your specific situation with a lawyer can be incredibly helpful as they can guide you towards one of the following most common types of bankruptcy:

Chapter 7: this form of bankruptcy clears all unsecured debts. Chapter 7 can help by wiping the slate clean so that you are able to make a fresh start. A trustee will review your financials and assets and liquidate them to pay creditors. In order to file for Chapter 7, you must meet certain criteria, including passing a means test. 

Chapter  13: this form of bankruptcy involves restructuring debt and repaying much of it back with a repayment plan. A trustee is assigned by the courts to oversee your case, collect your monthly payments and pay off your creditors. 

Can I request a child support modification if I am filing for bankruptcy?

You do have the ability to request a modification to your child support order. However, you will be required to show that there is a substantial reason for your request. This could include a change in income, employment, the birth of another child, or a change in the needs of your child. When filing for bankruptcy, it’s important to be aware that child support arrears are not dischargeable debts in a bankruptcy. Meaning, you will still be required to pay them. In fact, child support is considered a priority debt, making it one of the first debts settled during bankruptcy proceedings. 

If I owe child support arrears, will this debt be discharged as part of my bankruptcy?

As mentioned above, no. Child support arrears are non dischargeable, priority debts. This means they cannot be wiped during bankruptcy proceedings. Additionally, when the automatic stay is granted, you will still be required to make child support payments. Interestingly enough, filing for bankruptcy may even help the child support creditor to avoid taking separate legal action. 

How long will it take for my bankruptcy to reach a resolution?

This will depend upon the type of bankruptcy chapter you file. In most cases, reaching a resolution to Chapter 7 bankruptcy can take approximately 3 months. Chapter 13 bankruptcy takes longer. Because Chapter 13 involves a repayment plan, it will take 3-5 years before your bankruptcy case is settled. 

If you are struggling to make your child support payments and are considering filing for bankruptcy, first speak with a lawyer to ensure as seamless a process as possible. Call today to schedule a consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer in Melbourne, FL

Thanks to the Law Offices of Arcadier, Biggie & Wood for their insight into bankruptcy law and child support.