Child Support payments and Bankruptcy what are my options?

Filing Chapter7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may allow you to discharge certain types of unsecured debts or restructure your debt payments, but there are certain debts which will not be affected by bankruptcy. Recently on our bankruptcy forum a user asked, “If I have child support payments can I file bankruptcy and have these payments discharged?”

Child support is critical to the health, care, and well-being of our children. With this is mind, there is no court which is going to allow a parent to avoid this obligation. Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy will discharge certain debts such as unsecured personal loans, medical debts and credit card payments. It will not, however, ever discharge child support payments, even back payments.

Options to pay child support


So what are your options if you owe child support? You really have only one option: pay it. This is tough, especially if you have lost your job or you have had a severe medical crisis. Most parents love their children and they want to do their best by them, but they may not always be able.

So what do you do if you cannot make your child support payments? The first step is not to ignore the problem. Many debtors make the mistake of ignoring the child support order, allowing the balance to accumulate and then facing serious ramifications from the Child Support Enforcement Office.

The best thing to do if your financial circumstances have changed, however, is to immediately contact the Child Support Enforcement Office and discuss whether your child support order can be modified. This can generally be done by filing a formal motion requesting a modification.

Steps to modify a child support order


The first step to modify the order is generally to submit a written request to modify the child support order. The request will then be reviewed by the state. The other parent will also have the chance to review the request. If approved, the state will issue the proposed modification to the child support order. The proposed order is reviewed by all parties prior to approval.

Will filing bankruptcy help me pay my child support?


As mentioned above, filing bankruptcy will not eliminate child support payments or discharge any back child support payments. It can, however, free up funds you can use to make your child support payments.

For instance, if you have $25,000 of medical bills, $20,000 of credit card debts, and $15,000 of unpaid child support it may be possible for the medical bills and credit card debts to be discharged by filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Although the $15,000 of child support will remain, having the other debts eliminated could allow you to pay the child support.

Bottom Line


If you are facing a financial crisis or if your income has substantially decreased do not wait to discuss your child support obligations with the state. Consider requesting a child support modification as soon as possible. If all else fails and you have other high unsecured debt obligations filing bankruptcy may discharge those debts and allow you to make your child support payments.

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Beth L. is a content writer for Better Bankruptcy. Good content and information is one of many methods we utilize to bring you the answers you need.