Child and spousal support debts in bankruptcy
Child support, alimony, family support: it is all non dischargeable in
bankruptcy. Nonetheless, if you owe back support, bankruptcy might
help you get control of your support obligations by eliminating other creditors
who compete for your dollars or by creating a Chapter 13 plan for the cure of
Bankruptcy might also provide a forum in which any disputes about what is
owed or has been paid can be determined. A bankruptcy judge won't revisit
support orders made by a family law court, or modify support for the future, but
might sort out accounting issues as to the amounts owed.
In Chapter 13, support is a priority claim, which must, by law, be paid in
full over the life of the Chapter 13 plan. Support has a higher
priority than even taxes. The automatic stay protects you from all
creditor action to collect back debts while you propose and perform on a Chapter
Don't be an ostrich!
Too often, the financially stressed spouse who should be paying support can't
for reasons of job loss, illness, etc. The biggest mistake the non paying
party can make is not attempting to get the court ordered support modified to
fit the current circumstances. The current order will control what is owed
each month, now and forever, until it is changed. It is virtually
impossible to get a court to retroactively modify a support order, or to get any
governmental agency collecting back support to compromise.
So, if circumstances have changed and you truly can't pay at the ordered
level, go back to court to get it adjusted. Sticking your head in the sand
on this issue is a mistake that will follow you forever until paid.