Bankruptcy

When Can Child Support Be Discharged In Bankruptcy?

Child Support cannot usually be discharged in bankruptcy. However, there are two exceptions:

  • If the child support in the divorce decree specifies that an obligation to a spouse is child support, but that obligation is not actually in the nature of child support, then the obligation can be discharged in bankruptcy. For example, if the divorce decree says that the husband can pay the $1,000/month  mortgage of his ex-wife and that the payment will be treated as child support, that payment amount might be discharged in bankruptcy.
  • If the child support payment obligation is assigned to a third-party the debtor may be able to discharge it in bankruptcy.  For example, if some other person takes over the obligation of paying child support.

The United States Bankruptcy Code (Title 11 of the United States Code) states in Section 523 that:

(a) A discharge under Section 727, 1141, 1228(a), 1228(b), or 1328(b) of this title does not discharge an individual debtor from any debt . . .

(5) to a spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor, for alimony to, maintenance for, or support of such spouse or child, in connection with a separation agreement, divorce decree or other order of a court of record, determination made in accordance with State or territorial law by a governmental unit, or property settlement agreement, but not to the extent that

(A) such debt is assigned to another entity, voluntarily, by operation of law, or otherwise (other than debts assigned pursuant to § 402(a)(26) of the Social Security Act, or any such debt which has been assigned to the Federal Government or to a State or any political subdivision of such State); or

(B) such debt includes a liability designation as alimony, maintenance, or support, unless such liability is actually in the nature of alimony, maintenance or support . . . .

Please speak with a bankruptcy attorney about how your child support obligations may be handled in bankruptcy.