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Bankruptcy and Child Support

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The automatic stay rule which prevents creditors and other debt collection entities from seeking remuneration from borrowers does not apply to child support payments. In other words, if you are trying to collect from an ex-spouse, his or her bankruptcy filing will not protect him or her from having to making good on past due support bills.

That said, during the reorganization period, the debtor's financial life can get quite complicated. Child support payments are considered highest priority -- meaning that they must be paid off before other creditor obligations, such as payday loans, credit cards and medical bills -- but the receiving spouse may have to work with an attorney to ensure the proper and speedy expedition of said child support payments.

If the debtor files for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, there is a good chance that his or her payments will be an essential condition for meeting his reorganization plan. In other words, if the spouse fails to meet both past due and future payments according to the plan, the bankruptcy may be nullified or other penalties may be enforced.

What happens if a debtor has more than one set of child support past due payment obligations or if the debtor has “equally” pressing top priority creditors claims? The answer here depends specifically on the details of the case and on the precedent and application of state law. If you have questions about whether your ex-spouse may be able to make good on his or her child support payments following a bankruptcy, work with your attorney to ensure enforcement.

If a child support lawsuit is in adjudication at the same time as a bankruptcy filing, the situation can get quite complicated. While the courts typically go out of their way to ensure the welfare of children caught in parental disputes, the system is not bulletproof. Make sure that you understand all the contractual obligations of both parties in your child support arrangement.

Study up on the various bankruptcy provisions relevant to your case, so that you can speak intelligently with your attorney about how to press your ex-spouse or partner for remuneration in the event that the partner does not comply completely under his or her Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 plans.

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