Can my ex get out of child support through bankruptcy?

One of my clients, who is owed past-due child support from her former husband, learned that he recently filed bankruptcy.  She wondered whether he can discharge the past-due child support through that bankruptcy.  The short answer is that he cannot get rid of his past-due support through bankruptcy.  Indeed, the only way a person can get rid of past-due child support amounts of which I am aware is if the person to whom the support is owed agrees to forgive the past-due support, and that is very rarely (never?) a good idea.

The popular belief is that bankruptcy wipes out all debts, giving the debtor a “clean slate,” albeit with a significant blow to that person’s credit rating.  But that really isn’t true.  The bankruptcy code lists several categories of debt that cannot be discharged as part of a bankruptcy.  They include the following:

  • Taxes and tax liens;
  • Debts obtained through fraud or false pretenses;
  • “Domestic support obligations,” meaning child support and alimony debts;
  • Debts for willful or malicious injury to person or property (as opposed to negligent injury to person or property);
  • Debts for any injury to person or property caused while you were driving (or flying, or sailing) while intoxicated;
  • Government-imposed fines or penalties, such as criminal sanctions;
  • Student loans; and
  • Condominium association fees.

So while many debts can be discharged through bankruptcy, certainly not all debts can be eliminated in that way.

One comment

  1. Kevin Learned · · Reply

    Interesting to see the list of things that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

    On Tue, Jun 18, 2013 at 6:16 PM, The Learned Lawyer wrote:

    > ** > scottlearned posted: “One of my clients, who is owed past-due child > support from her former husband, learned that he recently filed > bankruptcy. She wondered whether he can discharge the past-due child > support through that bankruptcy. The short answer is that he cannot get > ri”

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