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Can Filing for Bankruptcy Reduce or Eliminate Child Support Payments?

| January 11, 2017

Falling behind in child support can create a stressful situation for both the parent and the child. Parents want to do the right thing but are sometimes unable to make the payments in a timely manner. Some may wonder whether filing for bankruptcy can provide any relief.


There are some types of debt that are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Child support payments cannot be eliminated through either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. However, relief can sometimes be obtained through Chapter 13 reorganization. In these proceedings, the parent owing child support may petition the court for a new payment schedule. Sometimes the court will waive the interest requirements. All child support payments that are due after the Chapter 13 filing must be kept current, but you are given the opportunity to catch up on the payments that are in arrears using a new repayment plan approved by the court. This can prevent a separate legal action to collect the money outside of bankruptcy, such as wage garnishment.


Before considering filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, there may be other options to explore. If you have fallen behind in your child support payments due to a loss of employment, a change in income, or unforeseen medical expenses, you may be able to request a modification in the amount of the payments. You must be able to explain to the court the circumstances that have led to the need for a re-evaluation of the child support amount. An attorney can assist in contacting the Child Support Enforcement Office and in filing a motion for modification.


If you find yourself falling behind on child support payments, it is important to quickly address the issue. Ignoring the problem can lead to further legal action being taken against you including garnishment of wages, seizing of tax refunds, liens on property, passport denial, and even jail time. Contact an attorney for help in dealing with issues concerning unpaid child support.

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