I currently owe thousands of dollars in back child support and have been unable to pay this due to a recent job loss. Can I file bankruptcy to wipe out this debt?
The federal bankruptcy laws were enacted to give an individual a fresh start from past debts and obligations. Certain debts are viewed as priority debts and child support tops the list.
Whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will still be obligated to pay all current and back child support.
However, bankruptcy may help you get control of your child support obligations by eliminating other debts in Chapter 7 (thereby freeing up more money to pay child support) or by creating a Chapter 13 plan to pay off the back support over a period of time (three or five years).
If your financial circumstances have changed substantially since the court ordered child support, you may want to go back to family court and ask for a reduction in support.
For more details on how child support is treated in bankruptcy, see How Does Bankruptcy Affect Child Support Debt?
Updated by: Kathleen Michon, J.D.