Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows an individual with significant debt and significant income to halt collections practices by creditors and restructure his or her finances to pay the debt down over time. While abiding by the strict guidelines laid out for a Chapter 13 restructuring, some debtors may place a stay on collections regarding child support or spousal support, but the bankruptcy does not allow discharge of these obligations.
In many cases, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not affect support issues at all. Ideally, the debtor continues to pay his or her support obligations throughout the process and pays down any owed support, but if the debtor specifically requests a halt to support collections, a court may allow it.
In overly simple terms, Chapter 13 does not discharge owed support and does not eliminate ongoing support obligations. However, in some cases, the debtor may successfully halt collections on support that is already owed. In the eyes of the court, support obligations are often the highest priority among the many obligations a debtor may face. Once a debtor completes a Chapter 13 discharge, he or she continues to carry any ongoing support obligations as long as the support order mandates. The discharge does not affect the ongoing order, only the collections practices on existing support debt.
If you need help assessing your legal options surrounding debt, an experienced attorney who understands the nuances of bankruptcy law can provide advice and guidance. Bankruptcy may provide crucial relief to debtors who simply need assistance getting back on track financially, but is only as effective as the ability of the debtor to complete the process. Professional guidance ensures that you understand the legal issues at hand and do not miss out on important benefits as you chart a course to a fresh start in your financial life.