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Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Can Keep You Out of Jail for Past-Due Child Support

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Arrested

Don't get arrested for back child support

Image Source: Flickr User Victor

When child support is established during a divorce proceeding, it's based on the paying spouse's current salary and ability to pay. But sometimes, that amount that was fair at the time of the split becomes unmanageable later. If you were assigned a substantial child support payment but then lost your job, had a pay cut, or otherwise are now earning less, you may be struggling to make your payments. Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a helpful solution for child support woes.

Chapter 13 can keep you out of jail for back child support

Once you fall behind on child support, there is a very real risk that your ex can file charges to have you locked up for non-payment of court-ordered support. If that happens, you may lose your job, your professional reputation may be at risk and a whole host of other negative consequences. In North Carolina, you can also lose your business license, driver's license, occupational or professional license if you are one month or more delinquent on support payments. That can be catastrophic. Chapter 13 can stop all of these actions and allow you time to catch up.

How Chapter 13 helps with delinquent child support

Once you file Chapter 13, past due balances on secured debts like your auto and mortgage plus delinquent balances on your child support or alimony are rolled up into a lump sum then made part of a three to five-year repayment plan. So long as you stay current on this repayment plan, you should not lose your license(s) or face jail for the past-due balance. This can also buy you time to go back to family court to request that your current payments be reduced to a more affordable level. If you are facing jail for back child support, Chapter 13 may be your best shot to get out of the mess.

How Chapter 13 helps you get a fresh start

If you had a short period of unemployment or lower income and are back to full earnings capacity, you may be able to pay your current obligations, but not your past-due. This can leave you in a tight spot if your ex is not willing to work out a repayment plan and is demanding all of the back balance at once or in installments that you cannot afford. With a Chapter 13, your ex will have no choice but to accept the payment plan of the bankruptcy court so long as you keep making current payments as well as installments on the Chapter 13 plan.

How to get child support reduced

When your income drops, you'll have to go to family court to get your support obligations decreased. The bankruptcy court cannot reduce your past-due balance or your current payment amounts. Family court will generally not reduce your past-due balance but may help you by lowering your current payments amounts. To get payments reduced, you'll need to demonstrate that you're unable to make your payments because your income has dropped against your will – and not because you're earning less income because you're trying to shirk. But if you can substantiate your claim, you have a shot.

Explore your options before a warrant is issued

An arrest for non-payment of child support will result in a criminal record that can haunt you for the rest of your life. When warrants are issued for child support arrears, often, the bond to get you of jail is set at the amount you owe. This can be a challenge to deal with because you likely don't have that money sitting around or you already would have paid up. Many men sit in jail for a month or more because they can't bond out and can't afford to pay their support. This usually results in job loss and a domino effect that can be almost impossible to undo. Don't let this happen to you.

Contact our office for advice

If you're behind on child support and your ex is threatening you with jail and won't work with you until your income recovers, your future may be at risk. Don't let this unfortunate circumstance ruin your life. We are experts in North Carolina bankruptcy and can look at your income, expenses and child support arrangements and let you know if Chapter 13 can help you get a grip on your past dues to protect you from possible arrest and get your finances back on track. Contact the law offices of John T Orcutt for help today. Call +1-919-646-2654 for a free bankruptcy consultation in Greensboro, Raleigh, Fayetteville, Garner, Wilson, or Durham.

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