When faced with a magnitude of debt, many Americans turn to bankruptcy to find financial relief. Bankruptcy can wipe out a significant portion of the debt, giving financial relief to those that require it. However, not all debts can be forgiven when filing for bankruptcy. Domestic support obligations such as child and spousal support, generally speaking, are not dischargeable.
Learn more about bankruptcy and domestic support obligations below.
Bankruptcy and Child Support
Overdue child support payments are not debts that can be forgiven. Child support is not a debt that can be escaped when a person files for bankruptcy. If your former spouse is no longer making child support payments, there are several methods to enforce these payments:
- Garnishing wages
- Withholding tax refunds
- Suspension of occupational or business licenses
- Revoking their driver’s license
- Seizing property
If your former spouse still fails to make payments, the court may hold your former spouse in contempt of court, which can present significant consequences. If it comes to this, you will likely need the help of a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney.
Bankruptcy and Alimony
Like child support, debts associated with alimony cannot typically be discharged. Although, there are some exceptions to the rule that may allow an obligor to discharge alimony when filing bankruptcy:
- If your divorce decree does not explicitly specify that an obligation to a former spouse is alimony, then it may be dischargeable in bankruptcy. Meaning, if the obligation is not actually alimony, it can be discharged. For instance, if your divorce decree says that one spouse must make payments towards a marital debt and that this payment shall be treated as alimony, the spouse may be able to discharge that debt in bankruptcy as it is technically a non-alimony debt.
- If the alimony is awarded to a third party, alimony may be dischargeable in bankruptcy. If the payments are not directly for the benefit of the spouse, these debts may be forgiven.
Child Support and Alimony and the Automatic Stay
When an individual files for bankruptcy, an automatic stay is put into place. An automatic stay prohibits creditors and collection agencies from collecting payments. All phone calls and letters seeking repayment must stop. However, an automatic stay does not apply to child support nor alimony. This means all future and back child support and alimony payments must still be paid in full, and efforts to collect these payments are still legal.
Contact The Ault Firm
Child support or alimony are not dischargeable debts. If you need assistance and representation getting your former spouse to make their payments or need to modify the terms laid out in your divorce decree, contact The Ault Firm. If you are in Salt Lake City, West Jordan, or the surrounding area and require a knowledgeable lawyer, contact our experienced team of professionals. We strive to protect your rights, keep your best interest in mind, and work tirelessly to put you in the best position to succeed. Contact us today to schedule your case review.