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Child Support and Bankruptcy

If you are paying child support and are considering filing bankruptcy, you may want to know how a bankruptcy ruling will affect your child support obligations. On the other hand, if you are currently receiving child support, and the paying parent has filed for bankruptcy, you may be wondering what effect this will have on your child support payments. Following are some questions and answers on child support and bankruptcy.

Q: My ex-wife has declared bankruptcy, and now she says she doesn't have to pay child support. Is that true?

A: Child support payments generally cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. This means that a parent who owes child support cannot escape this duty by filing for bankruptcy. Bankruptcies do not act as a stay, or hold, on actions to establish paternity or to establish or modify child support obligations. The relationship between child support and bankruptcy is complex, and you may need the help of an attorney familiar with bankruptcy law.

Q: My ex-husband filed for bankruptcy last week. He owes back child support for more than six months. Will bankruptcy wipe this out?

A: No. Back child support payments (sometimes called payment "in arrears") cannot be discharged by filing for bankruptcy, so your ex-husband's obligations on back child support will remain in place.

Q: I'm looking into filing for bankruptcy, and I read that debts "in the nature of support" for children can't be discharged. What does this mean?

A: Debts "in the nature of support" for a child are basically any debts you incurred that relate to your child's welfare and upbringing, other than debts arising directly from child support payments owed. For example, if you owe debts for medical care that your child received, you will not be able to discharge those in bankruptcy. They will be considered debts "in the nature of support."

Next Steps
Contact a qualified child support attorney to make sure
your rights are protected.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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