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Does bankruptcy allow a person to stop paying child support?

A notice comes in the mail from an ex-spouse. It turns out your former spouse is having financial difficulties and has filed for bankruptcy. Just hearing the word "bankruptcy" can fill you with trepidation. Does going bankrupt mean your ex-spouse does not have to pay any more child support? Do not expect a Virginia court to buy that reasoning. Findlaw makes it clear that bankruptcy is not a shield from paying child support.

Bankruptcy can perform several actions to lessen or eliminate certain financial obligations while you try to rebuild your finances. However, bankruptcy cannot release a person from paying child support. Courts do not take likely the obligation of a parent to support their offspring and will not allow bankruptcy to be used to “discharge” or release a person from child support payments. Additionally, going bankrupt does not eliminate any previous child support payments that the parent currently owes.

The only possibility that a parent has to alter the nature of a child support obligation is to petition the court to change the original child support agreement. Financial hardships can help build a case for a court to lower child support, but a payment modification will only change the amount of future child support payments, not the amounts of child support that are outstanding.

It should be noted that bankruptcy can actually help a person make child support. By putting a halt to creditor actions to retrieve delinquent payments, it frees the parent up to prioritize remaining funds toward child support payments. So in this scenario, if an ex-spouse is filing bankruptcy, it does not necessarily have to be taken as a child support dodge unless the former spouse tries to use bankruptcy as an excuse not to pay child support.

This article is intended to educate readers on bankruptcy and child support and should not be read as legal advice.

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Alexandria, VA 22314

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