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How does bankruptcy affect child support?

Bankruptcy is a common means of wiping out debts, but many Illinois parents who have gotten a divorce may wonder what a bankruptcy filing will do to their child support obligations. Before filing for bankruptcy, understanding how bankruptcy laws affect child support obligations is important.

The fact is that filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy will do little to affect child support obligations or the legal processes that lead up to child support, such as determining paternity. Filing for bankruptcy is an important financial decision, and a parent may need to file for bankruptcy given their current situation. A parent should not, however, file for bankruptcy for the sole purpose of abolishing a child support obligation. What a possible bankruptcy situation will do is give the parent strong reason for requesting a modification of child support. A decision to file for bankruptcy indicates that the parent's financial status has significantly changed, and this is the primary grounds on which to pursue modifications.

In addition to thinking about child support payments, there may be other forms of child support obligations that are not removed by bankruptcy. These are often called debts in nature of support for the child. This can be any debt associated with a parent's obligations toward a child. Most often, they are unpaid medical debts. A child's medical debts are not resolved when a parent declares bankruptcy. In most cases, the parent will still be responsible for at least part of the debt.

A parent cannot stop paying child support as ordered due to bankruptcy. A parent who cannot afford child support payments may want to discuss the situation with an attorney and pursue a modification of the order. A family law attorney can be of assistance in this regard.

Source: FindLaw, 'Child Support and Bankruptcy," Jan. 7, 2015.

Source: Illinois General Assembly, "Illinois Compiled Statutes", January 06, 2015

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