Will bankruptcy get rid of the child support I owe my ex-wife?

Question: Will bankruptcy get rid of the child support I owe my ex? I owe a lot of child support because I lost my job and I just couldn’t pay. Also, my former wife is not a real nice person and I think she cheated on me. Frankly, I’d rather give the money directly to my daughter, even though she’s only 8 years old.

A.P. in Milton, GA

Answer: No, domestic support obligations are non-dischargeable debts, which means they cannot be eliminated by filing bankruptcy.

Domestic support obligations receive special treatment in bankruptcy. Support obligations include items like child support and alimony. The bankruptcy code states that debts “in the nature of support” cannot be discharged. These “support debts” are any debts incurred that relate to your child’s welfare and upbringing, and also include alimony. Whether you file a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7, you must continue to make ongoing child support payments as they come due.

In fact, to receive a discharge in a Chapter 13 case, you must certify to the court that he is current on all of your domestic support obligations and have paid all debt associated with domestic support obligations.

Furthermore, bankruptcy does not act as a stay or hold on actions in the Georgia family court system. Court-ordered support payments can be enforced through many governmental agencies, which are not available to help private creditors. Their collection methods can be harsh and can include driver’s license suspension and passport revocation.

In that case, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help stop these punishing forms of collection. A Chapter 13 will consolidate and readjust your debts to form one income-based monthly payment. Child support and alimony debts can be included in this monthly payment; however, in the end, you will have to pay the child support and other debts through the plan, although you can eliminate just about all forms of debt through the bankruptcy. On top of the plan, you have to stay current on your child support or alimony.

A.J. in Woodstock, GA

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