Does bankruptcy discharge child support or spousal support? If one of the co-parents after a divorce falls into a serious financial challenge will a bankruptcy affect existing child support or spousal support orders?
Orders issued by the Family Court in a divorce case relating to child and spousal support are known collectively as a domestic support obligation. Child support and spousal support are generally established based upon the payor’s ability to pay, the legal and financial obligations of a parent to their children, as well as an uneven financial playing field between the spouses at the time of the divorce.
Can a bankruptcy discharge child support or spousal support obligations? Child support is usually initially based upon numbers established by California’s child support calculator. The Judge may deviate from the calculation and/or the former spouses may reach agreement in negotiation or mediation to alter the amount established by the State calculator. However, once the child support order is issued it is a binding legal obligation unless and until it is modified in a post-decree action by the Court.
Spousal support is based an dozens of factors under California Family Law. The amount ordered was based upon the length of the marriage, the sacrifices made by the parties for one another during the marriage, the health and the income of each party as well as the financial standard of living enjoyed during the marriage to name a few of the specific factors.
Bankruptcy, in and of itself, cannot discharge a domestic support obligation. Therefore, the payor of child support and/or spousal support is required to continue making those payments after the bankruptcy is filed and for the duration of the case.
It may be possible to seek modifications from the Family Court to child support and/or spousal support obligations based upon a substantial change in financial circumstances. Does bankruptcy discharge child support or spousal support? In and of itself, no. However, every situation is unique and a substantial change in the financial support capacity of the payor may warrant a request to seek a post-decree modification of child support or spousal support.