If you plan to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it's important to understand that you cannot get rid of child support obligations or child support arrearages through bankruptcy. This rule extends to any type of domestic support obligation. There is one small exception, but it rarely arises.
A domestic support obligation is child support, alimony, or any other debt that is in the nature of child support, maintenance, or alimony.
A domestic support obligation is nondischargeable if it was established:
In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are able to wipe out (discharge) most of your debts. In return, you must give up nonexempt property. The bankruptcy trustee sells this property and uses the proceeds to pay your creditors.
Not all debts are dischargeable, however. The bankruptcy code carves out some types of debts that you will continue to owe despite your Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Domestic support obligations are one of the types of debts that cannot be wiped out in bankruptcy.
In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you keep your property and repay your debts through a Chapter 13 repayment plan. Some debts must be paid in full. Others might be paid in part -- the remainder will be discharged at the end of the repayment period. (To learn more about Chapter 13 bankruptcy and the repayment plan, see Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: An Overview.)
Here's how domestic support obligations are treated in Chapter 13 bankruptcy:
If you are filing for bankruptcy and want to know if income you receive from child support will affect your case in any way, see How Is Income From Child Support Treated in Bankruptcy?