Parents who have accumulated child support debt often wonder if they have options under bankruptcy to discharge the child support arrears. Although it may be disheartening for parents struggling with significant delinquency to hear, the answer is no because child support is a priority debt and child support and arrears must be paid.
However, bankruptcy protection can provide more available income to pay child support and arrears down. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is available to individuals or families who have limited income and assets and have substantial debt. Unsecured debt such as credit cards and medical bills may be discharged under Chapter 7, leaving more income to make timely child support payments and tackle child support arrears.
Another option is a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which is for someone who may have regular income and more assets, but nonetheless is struggling to make ends meet. Under a Chapter 13, unsecured debt is repaid over a 3 to 5 year period, with remaining debt forgiven when the structured repayment plan concludes. The plan prioritizes debt such as child support so they are paid, while providing a path to getting rid of cumbersome credit card. This often leaves a parent in better financial shape so they can meet their child support obligation. Chapter 13 allows filers to hold on to more of their assets.
If you are having trouble paying your court ordered child support, perhaps the first step is to see if you qualify for a child support modification. If there has been a substantial change in your financial circumstances, such as a reduction in hours at work or unemployment, you may seek a modification to the child support order to avoid getting behind on support payments in the first place. Keep in mind that the existing child support order remains in effect until the modification is approved, so if there has been a substantial change it is important to contact your attorney ASAP.
Most parents want to provide for their children but financial difficulties can get in the way. If you would like more information regarding a child support modification, contact the Illinois divorce modification attorneys at Schlesinger & Strauss LLC for help at 847-680-4970.