Personal bankruptcy is a legal process that offers relief to people not able to pay their debts. Many questions arise when bankruptcy is on the table, and often, those considering bankruptcy wonder how the process will affect their child support payments – especially those in arrears. This is an essential topic for those struggling to make child support payments, as failing to make these payments can result in severe consequences, including wage garnishment, tax refund seizure, loss of a driver’s license, and even prison time. In this article, we’ll explore this vital issue: can bankruptcy clear child support arrears? Here’s what you need to know.

Does Bankruptcy Clear Child Support Arrears?

There is no way to sugarcoat this answer. The fact is that because child support arrears are considered priority debts, they will not be eligible for discharge through bankruptcy. Therefore, even if individuals file for bankruptcy, they will still be responsible for their back child support payments.

The good news is that the bankruptcy process can offer relief in other ways, freeing up monthly income to help catch up with any payments in arrears.

Chapter 13 to Help Pay Child Support

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan may be an appropriate solution if you are delinquent on your child support payments.
Under Chapter 13, individuals can devise a plan to repay their debts over three to five years. During this time frame, you can repay your child support arrears in their entirety. Paying to satisfy your arrears through Chapter 13 can prevent wage garnishment and other collection actions. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can provide the time and space you need to regain your financial footing and repay your debts.

Chapter 7 Can Lighten Your Monthly Burden

Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges obligations such as credit card or medical debt, which are likely contributing to your financial crisis and making it difficult to make child support payments. Eliminating these debts through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing will free up more of your monthly budget. Discharging debt through bankruptcy also works to improve your credit score, making loans or credit more accessible in the future. These financing options can help you catch up on your child support arrears and get your financial life back on track.

Important to Note: If you are an individual that owes back child support, it is vital that you continue to make payments during bankruptcy. If you don’t, you are likely to incur additional penalties – or the judge may completely dismiss your bankruptcy case. Also, if you owe both child support arrears and ongoing child support obligations, your regular child support payments must be made during and after bankruptcy.

Consult a Sarasota Bankruptcy Attorney

Bankruptcy cannot eliminate the need to repay child support arrears, but it can offer relief in other ways. A bankruptcy attorney can help you to create a strategy to help you pay off your debts and avoid collection actions against you. If you are behind on your child support payments, hiring an experienced bankruptcy lawyer is essential to assess the best way to proceed. There is no need to go it alone or to guess what to do next – especially on this important topic.

Bankruptcy is a serious decision with long-term consequences, and understanding all your options before making any decisions is crucial. Richard V. Ellis has helped hundreds of Sarasota residents to get out of financial trouble and get back on their feet, and he is ready to help you with any questions or concerns. Call today to learn more or to schedule your first consultation.