Parents struggling to pay bills, including child support, may look to declare bankruptcy to relieve their child support debt. Indeed, some parents assume that by going bankrupt, they will be able to fully escape regular child support payments. However, child support debt cannot be dissolved by an individual declaring bankruptcy under Illinois family law.
What Happens if an Individual Cannot Pay Child Support?
Child support is a priority debt, and in almost all circumstances, bankruptcy cannot dissolve child support and arrears. This is because parents, in effect, are responsible for the upbringing of their children, and this debt cannot be avoided; it must legally be met. That said, declaring bankruptcy may give indebted individuals options, as well as flexibility, in the process of paying down debts.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is one type of bankruptcy that is sometimes appropriate in situations where individuals carry substantial debt, in addition to obligatory child support payments, but have limited income and assets. While child support cannot be dissolved, individuals may be able to obtain substantial relief from other forms of debt, like credit card or medical debt.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is another type of bankruptcy, typically appropriate when debts cannot be met but an individual has higher income and assets. It may involve establishing a structured debt repayment plan that prioritizes child support payments.
In some cases, adjustment of child support payments can be negotiated with the court system — for instance, in cases of a lost job, or following other reasonable factor affecting an individual’s ability to pay a debt.
Know Your Options
Navigating bankruptcy, debts, and child support are complicated. An Illinois divorce attorney or Illinois family attorney can be your most effective ally in this difficult process. The Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler, P.C. can help you with your bankruptcy and family law questions; reach out today for help in navigating a more stable and successful fiscal and family path