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Can bankruptcy erase child support?

You got divorced several years ago. You were ordered to pay child support, as your ex got custody and you earned more money. You owned your own business.

In the last year, though, that business folded. You got a part-time job, but then you lost that as well. You're facing mounting debt, and you've decided to declare bankruptcy and get a fresh financial start.

Can you eliminate your child support obligations? After all, if you can't pay your other debts, obviously you can't pay that support.

The reality, though, is that bankruptcy does not discharge child support obligations. If you owed $500 per month, you're still going to owe that amount after your bankruptcy filing goes through.

Moreover, you may have fallen behind on your support payments. You owe back payments. You must know that this debt also cannot be eliminated by bankruptcy. Even if every single debt you owe is wiped out, you still owe that money -- along with all of the upcoming payments.

One option that you may have is to ask for a child support modification. This may allow you to get a court order lowering your obligation based on your new financial situation rather than your income when you split up.

However, even if you ask for this, you must keep paying the full amount of support every month until it is approved. It does not alter the amount that you currently owe or your back payments.

The courts take child support payments very seriously. Whether you are paying or receiving child support, you need to know what legal rights and obligations you have.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Support and Bankruptcy," accessed Aug. 11, 2017

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