In the midst of financial turmoil, many individuals seek refuge in bankruptcy, hoping for a fresh start. However, when it comes to obligations such as child support, the waters become murkier, leading to pressing questions about what bankruptcy can and cannot do. Please continue reading and reach out to a dedicated Montgomery County bankruptcy lawyer from Mudrick & Zucker, P.C. to learn more. Here are some of the questions you may have:

Is Child Support Dischargeable in Bankruptcy?

Under U.S. law, specifically 11 U.S.C. ยง 523(a)(5), child support debts are treated with utmost priority, reflecting society’s commitment to the welfare of children. This statute unequivocally states that debts for alimony, maintenance, or support of a spouse, former spouse, or child are not dischargeable through bankruptcy.

Consequently, individuals filing for bankruptcy with the hope of discharging child support debts will find this avenue firmly closed.

Bankruptcy types, primarily Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, offer different mechanisms for dealing with debts.

Chapter 7, known for liquidating non-exempt assets to pay off debts, does not allow for the discharge of child support obligations.

Meanwhile, Chapter 13, often referred to as the wage earner’s plan, requires filers to fully repay their child support arrears through a court-approved repayment plan. The nature of Chapter 13 ensures that support obligations receive priority over other types of debt, reinforcing the non-dischargeable status of child support.

Can Bankruptcy Help Manage Child Support Debt?

While discharge might not be an option, bankruptcy can still play a role in managing child support debts. For instance, declaring bankruptcy can temporarily halt collection efforts due to the automatic stay provision.

This legal pause, however, does not extend indefinitely, particularly for child support, as collection activities can resume under certain conditions, as dictated by the bankruptcy court’s decisions.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy, in particular, offers a structured path to catching up on support arrears. By including these arrears in the repayment plan, debtors can systematically address their back-owed child support over the plan’s three to five-year duration.

It’s important for individuals considering this route to understand that timely payments during and after the bankruptcy process are crucial. Failure to adhere to the repayment plan or to make ongoing support payments can lead to serious legal consequences, including potential dismissal of the bankruptcy case.

What Are the Implications of Bankruptcy on Future Obligations?

It’s critical to differentiate between past-due child support and future obligations. Bankruptcy proceedings do not alter the amount of future support payments; these determinations remain within the jurisdiction of family courts. If financial circumstances change significantly, a modification of support orders should be sought directly through the family court, not the bankruptcy court.

For individuals struggling with child support debts, consultation with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney is indispensable. If you have further questions or you’d like to speak with a seasoned Pennsylvania bankruptcy lawyer, simply contact Mudrick & Zucker, P.C. today. We are here to help you through each step of the process ahead.