How Does Bankruptcy Affect Child Support in Florida?
In the state of Florida, child support payments are not directly affected by bankruptcy. No type of filing can eliminate your ongoing obligations, discharge your past-due support debt, or force the modification of a family court order.
However, this does not mean that filing will not help improve your financial situation if you are struggling with child support arrears. While you cannot discharge these obligations, you can use bankruptcy to wipe out most other unsecured debts, and this will allow you to reallocate your income towards making these payments and repaying what you owe.
Can Child Support Debt Be Discharged in Florida?
No, it cannot be discharged in a Florida bankruptcy, whether you file for Chapter 7 or 13. If you’ve been ordered to pay child support, any arrearages are considered priority unsecured debts that are not dischargeable in your case.
It is also important to know that while filing for bankruptcy can prevent most creditors from pursuing collection action against you while your case is pending, wage garnishments, court proceedings, and lawsuits involving these types of debts will continue even after you submit your petition. Your obligation to keep paying will not be suspended when you file, and the law expects you to continue to make your payments.
Child Support Debt in Chapter 7
Arrears are defined as priority unsecured debts under Florida Chapter 7 bankruptcy laws. As such, it takes precedence over other types of debts when the debtor files for protection, which means that this sort of debt must be paid in full before non-priority creditors such as medical providers and credit card companies are paid anything. It also cannot be discharged in Chapter 7, and you must continue to meet your court-ordered obligations after your case is filed.
Child Support in Chapter 13
With Chapter 13, any past-due obligations must be paid in full as part of a 3-to-5 year repayment plan. While many debts are lowered through this type of bankruptcy, this debt cannot be reduced or eliminated. In fact, the court won’t approve a repayment plan that doesn’t include full payment of your arrears. You will also continue to be subject to your court-ordered obligations after you file for bankruptcy in Florida.
What Can You Do?
Child support can be a stressful and emotional topic to discuss. You may be in a situation where you have been paying on time for years, but then something happens that changes your economic circumstances, and you find yourself falling behind.
If you owe this type of debt, bankruptcy can help you deal with your financial difficulties. Even though it won’t eliminate the requirement to pay, filing can drastically reduce your other expenses, making keeping up with your court-ordered payments a much easier task.
At DebtStoppers, we are committed to helping people like you confront their money troubles head-on and get back on track with paying what they owe. Call or text DebtStoppers today at 786-420-4545 to set up a free consultation to discuss your financial situation with one of our experienced Florida attorneys.