Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Lakeland Family & Divorce Attorney
Schedule A Consultation Today! Phone Logo Icon 863-619-5291
Lakeland Family & Divorce Attorney / Blog / Child Support / How Does Filing for Bankruptcy Affect Child Support Obligations

How Does Filing for Bankruptcy Affect Child Support Obligations


Parents have a legal obligation to provide financially for their children. This is true even if the parents are divorced. That is why the court orders one parent to pay child support to the other parent after divorce.  Child support is a legal responsibility that ensures a child’s well-being. If you are the parent responsible for paying child support and are facing financial difficulties due to overwhelming debt, one of the options you may be considering is filing for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy can help you start afresh financially. However, for people with child support obligations, the intersection of family law and bankruptcy law presents a complex landscape. In this article, we explore how bankruptcy affects child support obligations.

How Does Bankruptcy Affect Child Support?

When a person is struggling with overwhelming debt, they may have the option of filing for bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy eliminates unsecured debts, whereas Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves developing a repayment plan to pay off debts over a period of between three to five years. Any remaining debts may be eliminated at the end of the repayment period. In simple words, bankruptcy offers the opportunity to reorganize or eliminate debts.

In bankruptcy proceedings, child support obligations hold a special status. In Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, child support is considered a priority debt, meaning this debt cannot be eliminated. Filing for bankruptcy cannot eliminate your responsibility to pay child support. You must continue making child support payments even after filing for bankruptcy. Moreover, child support debt is paid first before other priority debts are paid.

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your non-exempt property is sold, and the funds are used to pay child support. After completing your bankruptcy, you must pay any child support balance and continue making ongoing payments. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, any child support debt must be settled fully through the repayment plan.

After a person files for bankruptcy, the automatic stay goes into effect. This legal provision immediately halts most creditors’ collection actions. After the automatic stay goes into effect, creditors cannot continue or initiate collection actions before seeking approval from the court. However, the automatic stay does not apply to child support collections. Actions to establish or modify child support and collection efforts, including income withholdings, are not stopped by the automatic stay.

What To Do if You Are Unable To Make Child Support Payments

If you cannot afford your child support payments, you have options. For example, you could consider taking on part-time work or side jobs to supplement your income. You could also look into state or federal programs that might help you manage your financial situation. It is also possible to reduce your child support obligations by filing a petition to modify child support. However, to get a modification, you must show a substantial change in circumstances, such as involuntary job loss.

Contact Our Lakeland Child Support Attorney

If you are struggling to keep up with child support payments, contact our Lakeland child support attorney at Darla K. Snead, P.L. We can help you understand your options.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn