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Is child support arrears dischargeable in bankruptcy?

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Federal bankruptcy court, the judge will issue a stay against any of your creditors, halting them from attempting to collect on the debt that you owe. But one of the exceptions to this rule is child support arrears. This means that the automatic stay does not prevent a child support petition and hearing or prevent the domestic relations office from attempting to collect on the debt. Since the wages you earn after the filing of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy are not actually part of the bankruptcy case, those future wages are fair game for the domestic relations office or any collection agency that is working on their behalf.

Child support arrears cannot be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Child support arrears are considered a priority debt, which is treated differently under the bankruptcy laws. Priority debts are by definition non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. Further, the continuing order to pay child support is not affected by the bankruptcy filing. You must continue the payments. If it becomes difficult for you to pay your daily living expenses and child support, then you can petition the bankruptcy judge to wipe out other debt or to allow you to retain more income.

Another aspect of child support arrears is that since it is a priority debt, it will most likely be paid off first, assuming there are non-exempt assets to be sold and distributed amongst the creditors. Priority debts get paid before other, lower general debts from sold assets.

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