Should I File for Bankruptcy if I Owe Child Support?


If you've fallen behind on your child support payments after your divorce in Pasadena, you might be wondering if filing for bankruptcy would be the best way to deal with your debt.

There are two types of bankruptcy: Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Both will have a negative impact on your credit rating, so the decision to file for bankruptcy isn't one you should take lightly. Chapter 7 bankruptcies remain on your credit report for up to 15 years. Completed Chapter 13 bankruptcies remain on your credit report for up to 7 years.

Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy means that a trustee will sell your property and give the money from the sale to your creditors. Debts left over are then discharged. If you have no property, all eligible debts will be discharged. However, child support obligations can't be discharged and they will be the first debts that are repaid with the money from the sale of your property.

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a trustee uses the money leftover from your living expenses each month to work on repaying your debts. Whatever debts can't be repaid within three to five years are then discharged. You can include child support in your Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan, but the debt won't be erased if it can't be repaid at the end of the time period.

If you were ordered to provide medical support or to pay college tuition expenses as part of your child support order, these debts are considered the same as standard child support payments for the purpose of your bankruptcy filing.

Even though filing for bankruptcy won't erase your child support obligation, it can make it easier to repair your finances by wiping out some of your other debts. When you owe less money overall, it should be easier to get caught up on your past due child support.

The laws surrounding bankruptcy are complicated, so it's smart to talk to a lawyer with experience in bankruptcy law before deciding if filing for bankruptcy is the right decision.

How Can We Help?

If you need assistance dealing with your child support obligation, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at Our Pasadena family firm can handle a variety of child support issues, including applying to reduce payments, dealing wage withholding orders, and handling requests for medical support.