Robert G. Smith, PLLC

Can my ex avoid making support payments by filing bankruptcy?

There are tens of billions of dollars in child support that are supposed to exchange hands each year here in New York and the rest of the United States. Custodial parents see far less than that from their exes though. Some estimates show that only half of all moms and dads who are supposed to receive child support to help them raise their children get what they've mutually agreed to with their ex or what the court has ordered.

The consequences associated with a parent not paying child support can be quite serious. Interest may be tacked on to what a noncustodial parent owes and their wages may be garnished, driver's license may get suspended and they could even end up in jail. The combination of these may hamper a nonpaying parent's ability to secure future employment.

A former spouse's or parent's obligation to pay alimony or child support doesn't disappear when they file for bankruptcy. The federal government classifies these debts as domestic support obligations (DSOs). These generally can't be discharged in bankruptcy. Any person ordered to make these types of support payments is obligated to pay all past due and future payments or may be punished for not doing so.

Divorcing spouses generally don't qualify to have their property settlement agreements discharged by filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A spouse who has been ordered to turn over property may qualify to have some property or debt division agreements discharged if they file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy though.

If your ex is in the arrears in making child support or alimony payments and you know that they're struggling with mounting debt, then you have every reason to be concerned about what may happen with their financial obligations if they file for bankruptcy. An attorney here in Manhattan can let you know what impact, if any, that you can expect your New York ex's bankruptcy to have on the alimony and other court-ordered payments that you count on receiving each month.

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Robert G. Smith, PLLC
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