Spousal Support Bankruptcy - How Does it Work?
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Spousal Support and Bankruptcy

Many people wonder how court-ordered financial obligations to other people (such as spousal support or alimony) fare in the bankruptcy court.

The specific laws and rules governing bankruptcy vary state by state, so if you want to know a firm answer about how your case will work, your can contact a bankruptcy lawyer practicing where you live. You can ask your questions directly to a local attorney in a free consultation. Just fill out the case review form below to get started now.

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Spousal Support & Bankruptcy: General Information

However, there are some federal laws that govern spousal support in bankruptcy, and these include the following.

  • Spousal support is non-dischargeable: Like child support, spousal support payments cannot be discharged in bankruptcy court. This is because spousal support is intended to maintain a certain standard of living for another human. In the bankruptcy court, alimony is considered high-priority and cannot be eliminated.
  • Spousal support in a repayment plan: If a person files for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, back spousal support payments may be included as part of the three- to five-year repayment plan that filers are required to adhere to in order to get a discharge. While catching up on back spousal support payments, filers are expected to stay current on other payments that come due.
  • Spousal support and Chapter 7: If a person files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, he or she will still be responsible for any spousal support payments: they cannot be discharged. However, Chapter 7 may still help some filers, as the bankruptcy court can excuse other unsecured debts (such as medical bills or credit card debt) to free up a filer's money to make spousal support payments.

What If I Can’t Afford My Spousal Support Payments?

Another common question potential bankruptcy filers have has to do with income loss and spousal support. What happens if, since the determination of alimony or child support payments, the responsible party loses his or her job or otherwise suffers a reduction in income?

The answer depends on a number of factors, one of them being the person’s state of residence. In most cases, though, any modifications to support payments would have to be made by the family court, not the bankruptcy court.

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