How Bankruptcy Can Help You With Child Support and Alimony Skip to main content

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How Bankruptcy Can Help You With Child Support and Alimony


Bankruptcy is a terrific way to take care of many kinds of debts. But you may have heard that not all debts will be discharged in a bankruptcy. As a result, and depending on the kind of debt you have, you may be worried that declaring bankruptcy would not really help you. What you may not know is how bankruptcy can help you with your debts, even the ones you can't discharge outright.

Support obligations fall in this category of debt.  They include things like alimony and child support payments. Because these are priority debts, you will not be able to discharge them outright with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and, in addition, the automatic stay will not prevent collection efforts on past due support obligation payments.

Nevertheless, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will help you get caught up and stay caught up on your support payments. First of all, when your unsecured debt is discharged, all the money you were spending on things like credit card payments will be freed for use toward your support obligations.

The protected status of support payments can be a good thing in the event that your case is a Chapter 7 asset case. In this rare kind of case, some of your assets will be liquidated to pay creditors. You probably would rather see the proceeds of your liquidated assets go to something like child support, rather than sending it all to unsecured creditors. In that case, your attorney should file a proof of claim on behalf of the support recipient, and this will ensure that most of the proceeds from the liquidated assets will be put to use toward your support payments.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy will be even more helpful to you when it comes to past due support payments. Say you are really behind on your alimony payments. Your ex is pestering you all the time about the past due amount and you need some relief.  A Chapter 13 filing will allow you to work these payments into your repayment plan and allow you to catch up over the course of a 3 to 5 year repayment plan. Note that you must be careful to keep up with your ongoing post-petition payments; failing to make the new payments as they become due can put your case in jeopardy. However, with the help the repayment plan, you buy yourself time to manage old debts and therefore keep up with the new ones.

If you've been struggling to catch up on your child support payments and alimony, bankruptcy can help you get back on track. Even debts that won't disappear in a bankruptcy can at least become manageable after a successful bankruptcy. You are probably aware already that unpaid support obligations can have very serious consequences; you could face hefty fines, problems with professional licenses, or even jail time, in addition to some very aggressive collection efforts. Besides all that, many people really want to make good on their support obligations, but their financial circumstances simply don't allow for it. Because of this, it's important not to wait until it's too late to be pro-active about solving your debt problems. Talk to a bankruptcy attorney today before the situation gets out of control.

From the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt. Helping families with real debt solutions since 1995. Call today to set up a free initial debt consultation at one of our convenient office locations in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville or Wilson.

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