It is not uncommon to find yourself struggling financially. You may have racked up credit card debt or have gone through some health issues and have mounting medical bills. On top of it all, you are making monthly payments supporting your child or children. What can you do to change the situation? How do you break the cycle? While bankruptcy issues are federally governed, child support cases are handled through state law and family court. You do have a choice in how you handle your bankruptcy- if you decide to file and which chapter you file under. However, child support payments are not considered optional and if you miss a payment you are subjecting yourself to severe penalties depending on the state your child support order is filed in. You will find additional information and some options below.
Should I declare bankruptcy?
In deciding to declare bankruptcy, there are some further considerations. What type of bankruptcy is appropriate for your situation? Chapter 7 is in place for the individual who does not make very much money and the majority of his or her debt is considered unsecured. Unsecured debt includes credit card bills, medical bills and personal loans. In filing for Chapter 7 your unsecured debt is liquidated and most people are able to keep their car and house. Chapter 13 is for the individual who makes a decent living but is unable to make monthly payments for things like a car loan or a mortgage. In this case, the individual is set up with a payment plan to pay a specified amount of the debt back, usually over the period of three to five years.
What if I can’t make my child support payments?
In the event that you have filed bankruptcy, your child support payments will remain the same unless you file for a motion to modify the amount. As previously mentioned, child support decrees are monitored through the laws of the state in which it was awarded and all issues and modifications are usually handled through family court in that jurisdiction. Ideally, you and your former spouse should discuss your financial situation and come up with an amicable solution. If you are able to speak directly to your former spouse regarding payments, you will still need to officially file the appropriate paperwork with the court. If you are not in an amicable situation, you will need to request a motion to modify your monthly payments and go before a judge. It is recommended that you seek the advice of a family law attorney in your pursuit to modify the payments as it can be a complicated legal matter and any missed or insufficient payments could result in hefty fines including jail time.
Unfortunately, individual debt in this country is quite common. For this reason, the options of filing for bankruptcy are available for the average person who has accrued so much debt that they need to start over. However, that does not mean you are not held responsible for spousal or child support. If you are in a situation where you are having difficulty making payments, you have options. The best step to take is to consult with a family attorney who understands the laws and nuances of your child support case.