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Can Child Support Be Included in Bankruptcy?


If you have fallen behind on child support, there is a strong possibility that other areas of your finances are hurting as well. Perhaps you lost your job, or your hours were cut. Perhaps you had to go on workers’ compensation or Social Security Disability, or perhaps you had to take care of a sick loved one. Whatever your reason for failing to pay child support, you may be thinking that bankruptcy could be a good solution.

“Can child support be included in bankruptcy?” We’ll start by saying that child support cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. You cannot discharge it in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

As far as a Chapter 13, debt-reorganization bankruptcy, it can be included in the bankruptcy, but it is categorized as a “priority debt.” Meaning, you have to pay monthly child support payments through your Chapter 13 repayment plan, and you have to pay the debt in full. Your child support obligation cannot be reduced or wiped out with bankruptcy.

What About Spousal Support?

Spousal support is treated the same as child support in bankruptcy cases. It cannot be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It can be included in the Chapter 13 repayment plan, but as a priority debt, it has to be paid off in full, and you cannot stop making payments on the debt – you have to keep paying your monthly payments through the life of the Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Other types of debt that generally cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy:

  • DUI fines
  • Court-ordered fines
  • Tax debt, with limited exceptions
  • Student loans, with limited exceptions
  • Victim restitution (criminal prosecutions)

If you have fallen behind on child support, we urge you to contact our firm for assistance. Local child support agencies have a number of enforcement tools, such as driver license suspension, other license suspensions, denying a U.S. passport, seizing your bank account, garnishing your wages, taking your tax refund, and much more. To explore a downward modification, contact our San Jose and Fresno divorce and bankruptcy firm today.

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