The most common question I hear from divorced individuals is, “My ex just filed for divorce, but he owes me past due child support. Can he legally get out of paying me the child support?” The answer is very simply, NO. Child support and Spousal maintenance are both non-dischargeable debts. This means no matter what happens in the bankruptcy, a person’s responsibility to pay child support and/or spousal maintenance remains intact. The bankruptcy court will not allow a parent or former spouse to stop paying these types of obligations.
Oftentimes, a spouse who is contemplating divorce and bankruptcy thinks they will pull a fast one on the other spouse. This usually takes the form of the first spouse taking on all the debt which in turn allows them to take the majority of the property. They think that they will just file bankruptcy after the divorce and walk away free and clear. However, the bankruptcy code has instigated safeguards against this as well.
In a chapter 7 bankruptcy, while a debtor can discharge their obligation to pay the creditors, they cannot discharge their obligation to protect their ex-spouse from these creditors. Therefore, the non-bankrupt spouse could sue the bankrupt spouse if these creditors decided to collect from the non-bankrupt spouse.
If you have questions about the legal issues surrounding bankruptcy and divorce, call Benjamin Skinner, experienced Arizona bankruptcy attorney for your FREE consultation today! (480) 648-8975.