How Does Bankruptcy Affect Child Support in Texas?
Let our Houston Child Support Lawyer Explain
There are two basic forms of bankruptcy an individual can claim: Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidating the assets of an individual to repay his debts in full. Chapter 13 bankruptcy, on the other hand, is a form of bankruptcy in which the debtor creates a repayment plan and repays his or her debts over a period of three to five years. Child support is not dischargeable in either form of bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Child Support Obligations
During Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are still required to make both child support and spousal support payments. Generally, once a petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed, creditors are prohibited from collecting debts from the debtor. However, while most creditors are not permitted to collect, an exception to this rule is made for actions to collect child support or spousal support. Therefore, if you fail to make a child support payment, your ex-spouse may bring an action against you to collect this support.
The amount of child support owed is not usually impacted by filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, because you typically pay child support out of your current or future income. However, if you have recently lost your job or otherwise suffered a decrease in your income, you may petition the family law court to change your current child support obligations.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and Child Support Obligations
Under Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, you typically have three to five years to repay your debts under a standard repayment plan. During this period, you may be able to avoid garnishment of your wages for overdue child support, provided you make the payments as required under your repayment plan. Chapter 13 bankruptcy often gives debtors who are past due on child support the chance to catch up on their child support obligations over a period of time.
The Bankruptcy Court gives different priority to different claims when reviewing a Chapter 13 repayment plan. Child support claims are considered priority claims that must be paid in full by the end of the repayment period. These support claims are considered more important than most other claims and must be paid before your unsecured creditors and before your tax claims.
Modifications of Child Support Obligations
While support obligations cannot be modified by a Bankruptcy Court, bankruptcy proceedings may provide an opportunity to address any disputes over past support owed or what was paid prior to filing for bankruptcy. You may also petition the family law court to change your support obligations based upon a change in income, if your bankruptcy was due to a lost job or other similar change in circumstances.
If you face the possibility of bankruptcy or if you are concerned about recovering past-due child support payments from an ex-spouse who has claimed bankruptcy, you need a Houston child support attorney you can depend on throughout the bankruptcy process. The Houston divorce lawyers at John K. Grubb & Associates, P.C., have experience assisting clients with a wide variety of child support issues, including support during bankruptcy proceedings. Contact a Houston child support attorney at the Houston divorce law firm of John K. Grubb & Associates, P.C., for assistance with your child support issues.