It’s difficult to navigate the financial maze, especially if you are considering Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The situation becomes even more complex if you have other obligations, such as child support or alimony.
This article will explain how Chapter 13 bankruptcy impacts these obligations and the steps you can use to manage them.
Prioritizing Child Support and Alimony
In Chapter 13, alimony, child support and other debts are given priority.
You must pay all of your obligations, including taxes. If you fail to make these payments, your Chapter 13 case could be dismissed or worse, legal consequences may result.
You submit a repayment plan when you file Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This plan will outline how you intend on paying off your debts, which is usually between 3 and 5 years.
This plan includes alimony and child-support payments. You must demonstrate that you are able to make future payments and catch up on past due amounts.
Automatic Stay and Domestic Assistance Obligations
It is an immediate benefit of bankruptcy. The automatic stay prevents most creditors from taking any action to collect debts.
The automatic stay does NOT apply to child support or alimony. Even after filing for Chapter 13, your ex-spouse may still pursue legal action to collect the payments.
In Chapter 13, people have to balance the legal obligations for alimony and child support with the repayment plan. Remember that the court will take these domestic support obligations very seriously.
If you fail to pay, you may face contempt charges, wage garnishment or even prison time.
It’s important to make sure that your Chapter 13 payment plan is realistic, and includes these payments.
Working With an Attorney
It is important to hire an experienced and qualified bankruptcy attorney due to the complexity of bankruptcy laws and the serious consequences of failing domestic support obligations.
You can get help from them to create a plan of repayment that will be approved by the court while not putting you in a financial bind.
The completion of a Chapter 13 repayment program is a major accomplishment, but does not eliminate alimony and child support obligations.
Domestic support obligations, unlike certain debts such as credit card balances and medical bills, are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Even after your court has discharged all of your debts, you will continue to pay these obligations.
Update Child Support Payments
Child support can be a dynamic obligation, which changes over time depending on various factors such as income fluctuations or changing needs of the child.
Once your Chapter 13 plan has been completed and your financial situation has changed, you can request a modification to your child support payments.
When you are liable for alimony, child support or both, filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a complicated affair that requires legal advice and careful planning.
This post was written by Trey Wright, a Florida Bankruptcy Lawyer! Trey is one of the founding partners of Bruner Wright, P.A. Attorneys at Law, specializing in bankruptcy law, estate planning, and business litigation.
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