Parents don’t always fulfill their legal and financial responsibilities to their children. This is often a fact when a parent cannot pay the monthly child support payments. Since child support payments are an obligation put on the parent by a court, the parent that fails to pay can get into serious trouble.
Even if a parent is unable to pay for one reason or the other, the courts are unlikely to relieve the parent from this obligation easily.
Most of the time a parent misses a payment or payments because they can no longer afford to pay. This is especially true for parents that are filing for bankruptcy. Parents in this situation must keep the child support arrears in mind before they file for bankruptcy. These arrears are child support payments that the parent still owes.
Do You Still Have To Pay Child Support Arrears When Filing For Bankruptcy?
There are many kinds of debts that can be discharged or “eliminated” when you file for bankruptcy, but child support arrears are not discharged during bankruptcy. You simply have to pay the child support you owe. Apart from child support arrears other non-dischargeable debts include spousal maintenance, alimony, and family support. But you may get indirect relief if you are filing for bankruptcy.
This means that when you are filing for bankruptcy, the other debts you owe that are dischargeable may be eliminated. That means you won’t have to pay them anymore which may leave you with extra money that you can use to pay the non-dischargeable debts including past due child support. Filing for bankruptcy can make it easier for you to meet your other financial obligations.
What Is Automatic Stay?
An automatic stay is a legal provision that stops creditors’ collection efforts against a debtor. That means no more aggressive phone calls, lawsuits, repossession, and so on. But debts such as past due child support, spousal support, and other obligations are not affected by automatic stay. The amounts deducted from your wages because of child support arrears will still continue even after you file for bankruptcy.
Can You Get Out Of Paying Child Support Arrears Under Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
The bankruptcy court considers Child Support to be more important than taxes. That means that you must pay the full amount of Child Support you owe within the period specified in the Chapter 13 repayment plan.
But the payment schedule in your repayment plan allows you to pay based on your disposable income. You only pay what you can afford. Since your earnings are property of the bankruptcy estate, creditors cannot garnish your earnings unless they get permission from the court. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to pay the overdue child support before you repay your tax claims and creditors.
But you need to stick to the repayment scheme throughout the entire period of time of the reorganization plan. Failure to do so will result in the court lifting the automatic stay protecting you from creditors’ collection efforts.
You must have paid the full amount of child support you owe and remain current in your child support payments before you get discharged.