For many people who have missed child support or alimony payments or those who have not received the payments due to financial strain a bankruptcy may be necessary to resolve other financial issues to increase their ability to provide for such obligations. For those on the receiving end of the financial payments it may be concerning when the other parent or (ex) spouse fails to maintain payments and in turn files for bankruptcy. However, it is important to remember that any missed payments for child support will still be necessary and that only a modification of child support or alimony can alter the payment methods of either obligation. And although a modification will alter the payment methods of future payment obligations it will not retroactively alter past owed payments. In a bankruptcy child support and alimony payments will receive specialized treatment that will ensure that each is accounted for and that the debt is repaid. In other words it is not possible to discharge these debts by filing for bankruptcy and the bankruptcy type in question may impact how you receive a repayment of these debts.
In Chapter 7 bankruptcy it is not possible to discharge child support or alimony payments and likewise it is not possible in Chapter 13 bankruptcy to discharge the same payments / debt. However, depending in the type of bankruptcy the repayment of such debts may be impacted on the type of bankruptcy pursued. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy the person filing for bankruptcy must certify to the court that all payments and obligations in relation to support are current prior to the ability to obtain a discharge of all other debt. Chapter 13 also allows for a repayment plan to be established prior to the repayment of all other debts. A Chapter 13 can also be used to help a person be released from jail to resume making child support or alimony payments if they have been jailed for contempt for not making the payments in the past. However, the person filing the Chapter 13 bankruptcy case must strictly adhere to a Chapter 13 plan that includes making the current payments and catching up the arranges, or they may face going back to jail for contempt.
Lastly, child support and alimony receive priority in bankruptcy situations and are considered to be of utmost importance as the highest priority of any other type of debt. If you find yourself in this type of situation you must seek advice from a bankruptcy attorney or other appropriate state support agency to file for a claim with the court documenting the exact amount of back support debt owed. Once you properly document the amount of debt owed then due to the high priority of the debt you should be the first creditor to obtain repayment of the debt owed. If the debt fails to be repaid prior to the bankruptcy process it will be mandatory that this debt is repaid prior to the discharge allowance of all other debts. Also, something that is not always apparent to the party receiving child support and/or alimony is that the filing party frequently files bankruptcy to make it easier to pay the support. It stands to reason if a person files bankruptcy and is relieved of burdensome credit cards bills, wage garnishments, law suits and other financial burdens – he or she will likely have more resources to pay their non-dischargable support obligations. If you have any questions about bankruptcy, divorce, family law and/or related family law issues call us at 770-609-1247 to discuss your questions with an experienced Georgia divorce, family law or bankruptcy attorney.