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THE INTERSECTION OF FAMILY LAW AND BANKRUPTCY

Mother and Father have a child support order wherein Mother pays Father through a Court Order. Mother falls behind in this obligation. As a result, Father files for Contempt against Mother in Family Court. Mother attends an Enforcement Conference and is ordered to pay $1000.00 by the end of the week. Rather than paying this Support Order, Mother files for Bankruptcy through the Bankruptcy Code. Will Mother’s child support obligation be forgiven?

Mother and Father have a child support order wherein Father pays private high school tuition, as a part of his support obligation, directly to the private school. Father falls behind in this obligation. Mother files to enforce this obligation. In response, Father files for Bankruptcy through the Bankruptcy Code. Does the fact that Father pays this obligation directly to the private school rather than to Mother change the nature of the payment from child support to something else? Does it matter?

The answers are No, No and No.

In both cases, however, the Automatic Stay attaches when the Bankruptcy case is filed. This means that in a general sense, all collection action against the person who files for Bankruptcy are stopped. Does the automatic stay apply to these two obligations above? It does not.

Is the Family Court able to enforce the Child Support obligation in Family Court while the Bankruptcy is still ongoing. Yes it can.

Child Support obligations are not affected by the filing of Bankruptcy. The Automatic Stay does not stop a party or the Court from enforcing the collection of Child Support.

However, there are a multitude of issues that arise when the Bankruptcy Code collides with Family Court issues.

If you are confronted with this collision, ask your Family Lawyer for a referral to a Bankruptcy lawyer for a consultation. Bankruptcy is a very complicated and nuanced area of the law. You need a specialist to properly navigate these choppy waters.

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