How Does Declaring Bankruptcy Affect Your Child Support Obligations?

Alan R. Burton Attorney at Law

The statistic that half of Americans could not come up with $400 in an emergency without borrowing is certainly alarming, but it is hardly surprising. Debt and financial hardship are huge problems in the United States. For many Americans, every paycheck means picking and choosing which bills to pay on time this pay period. It is easier to get relief from some debts than others. Many people see bankruptcy as their only option to start their financial situations over with a clean slate, but bankruptcy does not erase all your financial obligations. One financial obligation you are still responsible for, even if you file for bankruptcy, is child support.

What You do and Do Not Owe After Filing for Bankruptcy in Florida

Bankruptcy can free you from many of your debts. Debts that are “discharged” during bankruptcy are no longer your responsibility to pay. It does not, however, free you of all your financial obligations. With car loans and home mortgage loans, the car or house is collateral, meaning the lender can repossess it if you do not pay. If you declare bankruptcy, the lender can no longer pursue you for payments, but they can take back your car or house that is securing the loan.

Some debts, however, are non-dischargeable, which means that you still owe them even if you declare bankruptcy. Many non-dischargeable debts are obligations imposed on the debtor by a ruling in court. The following debts are non-dischargeable according to Florida bankruptcy laws:

  • Child support and alimony, including back child support
  • Settlements you must pay if you are held liable in a personal injury case
  • Fines for illegal acts, including everything from speeding tickets to fines included as part of a sentence for a criminal conviction
  • Most tax debts
  • Student loans

Is it Ever Possible to Get Out of Paying Child Support?

It is virtually impossible to get out of back child support obligations except by paying them. You can, however, avoid accruing new child support obligations under the following circumstances:

  • The child for whom you were paying child support becomes a legal adult or becomes legally emancipated.
  • You voluntarily terminate your parental rights. One example of this happening is when a stepfather legally adopts a child and the child’s biological father legally terminates his parental rights.
  • One parent submits a statement to the court, certifying that he or she does not need additional financial support from the child’s other parent.

In general, Florida regards financially supporting a child as a nearly inalienable obligation on the child’s parents. As long as you are the legal parent of a minor, you have an obligation to financially support your child. If you declare bankruptcy, it will not make your child support debts go away. You can, however, show the judge your declaration of bankruptcy as proof of your financial hardship. Some family court judges may take this as grounds to modify the payments you owe, at least temporarily.

Contact Alan R. Burton About Child Support Cases

Alan R. Burton deals exclusively with family law cases. Contact Alan R. Burton in Boca Raton, Florida if you think that your financial situation warrants modification of your child support obligations.

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