How Does Bankruptcy Affect Child Support?

  • By:David Bate

According to a study published by Harvard University, more than six out of every 10 personal bankruptcy claims filed in the U.S. are filed primarily due to medical expenses. This statistic clearly illustrates a sobering truth: Many, if not most, American families are only one major illness or injury away from significant financial instability.

Certainly, other reasons make filing for bankruptcy a necessity for many families. For example, some families run up unmanageable credit card debt while trying to make ends meet. Whatever the reasons are that prompt filing for bankruptcy, financial challenges in America are real and generally affect every member of a family navigating that struggle.

When parents find themselves questioning whether they can continue to provide for their children by either paying child support payments or receiving inadequate child support, the associated stress of that situation can be devastating. It is therefore critically important to understand how bankruptcy may affect child support and when modifications of existing child support orders may or may not be appropriate. Once parents understand the basics of these realities, they can ask their attorneys informed questions about how best to aid their children during a financially challenging time.   

Standing Child Support Obligations

A bankruptcy claim cannot generally discharge either standing child support orders or outstanding child support debts. This means that parents who claim that they no longer have to pay child support because they have filed for bankruptcy are misinformed. If your child is no longer receiving the support he or she is entitled to due to misinformation, please consider speaking with your attorney in order to help right the situation.

If you are responsible for either standing child support payments or child support debts and are unable to make ends meet, your bankruptcy filing will not place a hold or stay on these obligations. However, you may be able to seek a more manageable support situation out by filing for a modification of your existing order. In addition, wiping out other debts in bankruptcy may make paying future child support payments more manageable as well.

Seeking Modifications

When parents are struggling to pay for their child support obligations, they may be granted a modification of existing orders, depending on the specifics of their situation. While modifications sometimes increase support amounts when a parent is making more money or has assets that have appreciated significantly, child support orders may also be minimized when parents are struggling to pay the bills due to job loss, illness, injury or other qualifying factors. Questions about how a modification may affect your specific financial situation can be directed to your attorney.

Legal Assistance Is Available

Any time family finances take a significant hit, every member of the family may be affected. The law both seeks to protect children whose support may be affected by bankruptcy and parents who have legitimate grounds for modifications of existing child support orders. If you have questions about what bankruptcy means either for you or your child’s support order, please do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced bankruptcy lawyer Melbourne, FL turns to. Asking questions will not compel you to take any specific actions, but doing so may lead you to make more informed and beneficial actions moving forward.



Thank you to our friends and contributors at Arcadier & Associates for their insight into bankruptcy and child support.

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