Bankruptcy allows most debts to be wiped away and is meant to give the debtor filing a bankruptcy a fresh start. However, some debts do survive bankruptcy.
Child support is not a debt that can be discharged in a bankruptcy. Child support has been placed in a special category of debts that automatically survive a bankruptcy discharge.
When a person, who owes child support, files a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, that person must still pay the ongoing child support obligation as well as any arrears. The ongoing support will continue through the bankruptcy and after the bankruptcy as if no case was ever filed. Any arrears will pass through the bankruptcy and continue to exist as if the bankruptcy never occurred as well.
When a person, who owes child support, files a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, that person must continue to pay their ongoing obligation and any arrears will need to be paid through the Chapter 13 repayment plan. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is essentially a repayment plan where a person can pay back certain debts over the course of a three- to five-year period.
A Chapter 13 can provide a method to get back on track with child support arrears as it allows a person to have a repayment schedule where all the person’s disposable income is used to bring the child support obligation current. In some circumstances, entering into a Chapter 13 repayment plan will stop license suspensions or other legal action.
Either bankruptcy can allow a person a chance to focus their efforts on paying back a debt that cannot be eliminated.