What to Do About Child Support If an Ex-Husband Files for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

By Heather Frances J.D.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides a way for debtors to get a fresh start financially by allowing them to pay off debts under a three- to five-year repayment plan. At the end of the repayment period, eligible debts not fully paid can be erased, or discharged, by the bankruptcy court’s order. But, not all debts are dischargeable in bankruptcy, including child support.

No Action Needed

Child support and other domestic support obligations are not eligible for discharge under Chapter 13, so you don’t have to do anything differently when your ex-spouse files for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The law takes care of the situation for you -- you are not required to file any notices with the court or intervene in the Chapter 13 case. If your ex-spouse fails to tell the court about his child support obligations, you can notify his court-appointed bankruptcy trustee about the child support situation, though this is not required.

Past-Due Support

If your ex-spouse owes past-due child support, he can pay off the arrears as part of his Chapter 13 repayment plan. The plan must provide for the total amount due in back child support to be paid in full over the life of the plan. At the time of the confirmation hearing, when the bankruptcy court approves the terms of the repayment plan, your ex-spouse must be current on child support payments that became due after he filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy or his plan will not be approved.

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Discharge

Your ex-spouse must keep his child support current during the bankruptcy repayment period or the court may dismiss his case entirely. You should expect to receive your child support payments without a glitch. In order to receive the discharge of his other debts at the end of his repayment plan, your ex-spouse must certify to the court that he does not owe any past due child support and his payments are current.

Modifications During Chapter 13

Since your circumstances may change during your ex-spouse’s Chapter 13 case, you may find it necessary to file for a child support modification during his repayment period. Under changes made to the bankruptcy laws in 2005, state-level family courts may conduct many types of child support hearings, even while one ex-spouse is involved in a Chapter 13 repayment plan. Unlike many other types of debts, most of the typical protections of a bankruptcy case do not apply to child support.

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What Does a Discharge in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Mean to Debtors?
 

References

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Laws on Debt Forgiveness Through Chapter 13

When debt piles up, individual debtors may need the structure of a bankruptcy case to get back on their feet again. If you qualify, bankruptcy offers protection from collection efforts and a chance to partially erase some debts while paying others. An online legal services provider can help you file your bankruptcy case.

Will I Lose My Car if My Chapter 13 Is Dismissed?

Vehicles are one type of asset the court can address during Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but a dismissal won’t necessarily affect your ownership of a vehicle that has been paid off. Since the only creditor who can repossess your vehicle is the one who holds the loan on it, none of your other creditors can take your car. However, if your case is dismissed, you may have to sell some of your assets, including your car, to raise the cash to pay your remaining debts.

What If My Cosigner Files Bankruptcy?

If your debts have become unmanageable, you have the option of filing for bankruptcy protection. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you surrender non-exempt assets to a court-appointed trustee who uses them to repay your creditors. In a Chapter 13, the trustee administers a repayment plan under which you pay a percentage of your debts. At the end of your bankruptcy, the court discharges or cancels all debts that can legally be discharged. If you have cosigned a loan and your cosignor files for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you may still be responsible for repayment of the loan in full.

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