You Cannot Eliminate Your Child Support Obligation via Bankruptcy

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2020 – and right into 2021 – were difficult in many ways for most of us, and the economic fallout of the pandemic continues to affect many people. If you have fallen behind on your child support obligations and are considering bankruptcy, it might surprise you to learn that bankruptcy will not eliminate your past-due child support. This does not, however, mean that bankruptcy cannot help you improve your financial situation. (Click here to learn how to recover financially after divorce)


If you are drowning in debt and you see no way out, bankruptcy may help you find your financial footing by offloading other debt that is weighing you down. In this way, your child support obligations may become more manageable. Your child support and spousal support obligations fall into a category that is known as Domestic Support Obligations (DSO), and they are not fair game when it comes to discharging debt in bankruptcy for a variety of reasons – one of which is that they are governed by state laws rather than by federal U.S. bankruptcy codes.

Your Financial Options

Although bankruptcy is not going to work for you, this does not mean you are out of options. If life has dealt you a hand that leaves you financially unable to keep up with your child support obligations, you can file for a child support modification through the court that may reduce the amount you are responsible for paying. Two important points you should keep in mind in the interim, however, include the following:

  • Until you receive a modification, you are legally obligated to pay the original amount of child support awarded by the court, and you should do everything within your power to keep up with these payments.

  • Your ex cannot use any child support arrearages you owe as leverage to stop you from enjoying your regular visitation schedule with your children. Further, if your ex is keeping your children from you – outside of court orders – you cannot use this as an excuse for not paying child support. These are separate and distinct matters in the eyes of the law. (Read more about visitation¬†schedules:¬†Creating a Holiday Visitation Schedule that Works for You)

Filing for a Modification

It’s important to note that a child support modification can only affect your future payments – and not those that you already owe. As such, it’s important to file for a modification as soon as you recognize the need. Your request for a modification should be accompanied by evidence that supports the substantial change in your life that warrants it, such as a considerable reduction in pay, a serious illness, or another life-altering event. (Click here to read more about making modifications after a divorce is finalized)

A Knowledgeable Attorney Can Help

If you need a child support modification, Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a dedicated divorce attorney who understands the serious nature of your situation and has the legal skill and experience to help. We are on your side, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.


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