Domestic Support in Consumer Bankruptcy Cases

Posted by Kevin Ryan | Jan 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

The bankruptcy code does not permit the debtor to receive a discharge on a "domestic support' obligation.  This means that child support and alimony must be paid after the conclusion of the bankruptcy case.   In the context of a Chapter 13 case, all of the child support and/or alimony that is past due at the time of the filing of the case must be paid inside the Chapter 13 Plan.  The Chapter 13 Plan must be completed within sixty (60) months, so this can pose a strategical problem for debtors who owe a massive amount of Child support or spousal support.   

There are some instances where the Debtor can get a Chapter 13 Plan confirmed without paying all of the domestic support arrears.   In the situation where the Debtor owes a government agency for the past due domestic support. the government agency can agree to forego payment on all of the arrears inside the Chapter 13 Plan.    In the case of a Chapter 7 debtor, the domestic support obligation arrears will simply remain due and owing during the case and after the discharge order.   

A Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Debtor can receive a discharge on a monetary sum owed to a former spouse when the Divorce Decree is clear that the funds owed are related to a division of marital property award.   The Debtor can avoid these obligations by way of the bankruptcy process.   This can be a complicated legal issue, as both Debtor and the ex spouse may have differing opinions over what is a "domestic support" obligation ( which cannot be discharged) and a "division of marital property award" ( which cannot be discharged).  The key element that determines this issue is whether the award of marital property was intended by the domestic relations court as an award for the support of the spouse, or transfer of property in lieu of an award of spousal support.   

A Debtor is required to keep all current, post filing domestic support obligations current after the filing of a Chapter 13 case.  At the end of the Chapter 13 plan, the Debtor is required to file a declaration, under oath, which states that all of the domestic support obligations are current.   Conflicting evidence can be filed by the domestic support agency,  a creditor or the Chapter 13 Trustee, and any post-filing delinquency can cause the Bankruptcy Court to deny the Debtor a Chapter 13 discharge.  In sum, it is of the utmost importance to inform your attorney about the status of  all domestic support obligations.   

About the Author

Kevin Ryan

"I'll never be the kind of attorney your creditors want me to be. I'll always be the kind of attorney you NEED me to be. Call me. I'll BE there for you. And I'll make them go away."  -Kevin Ryan, Attorney at Law Kevin Ryan is a graduate of the College of Wooster and the Cleveland Marshall College of Law. He is admitted to practice before all Alabama State Courts, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Alabama. The United States Bankruptcy Court is a part of the United States District Court. Since 1998, Mr. Ryan has represented thousands of individual clients in bankruptcy, criminal, divorce, probate, personal injury, and real estate matters.  Attorney Ryan is also a licensed real estate agent in Alabama.  He handles  Bank-owned properties, short sales, and conventional sales in addition to conventional real estate listings.   This wide range of experience enables Attorney Ryan to take a wider look at your legal matter. It is important to consult with an attorney who can see from experience how other legal issues may affect your situation, and advise you accordingly. Personal Info Kevin Ryan is a member of First Baptist Church in Silverhill, Alabama. He resides in Silverhill with his wife Jessica and their three children. Committed to helping our Clients achieve a fresh financial start Our practice focuses primarily on consumer bankruptcy matters under Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.  Our law practice also includes matters where bankruptcy litigation, appellate work, or involvement in civil lawsuits is needed by a client.     No representation is made that the quality of any of these legal services is of higher quality than another attorney or law firm.   The United States Bankruptcy Code requires the following notice:  We are a Debt Relief Agency, which means we help people get legal relief from their Debts through the bankruptcy process. Interested in learning more about our bankruptcy attorney near Mobile, Alabama? Contact Us for help with chapter 7 bankruptcy or chapter 13 bankruptcy in Mobile, Baldwin and Washington counties. Education Juris Doctor, Cleveland Marshall College of Law, 1997 Employed full time as a paralegal while attending law school in the evenings. B.A., The College of Wooster, 1994 NCAA Div.III All Conference (N.C.A.C.) Football Team : Defense 1993; Most Inspirational Senior Award 1993; Co-captain 1993; Letterman 1991-1993; Phi Sigma Alapha Fraternity 1991-1994; Athletic Director Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice Alabama


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I'll BE there for you.

I'll never be the kind of attorney your creditors want me to be. I'll always be the kind of attorney you NEED me to be. Call me. I'll BE there for you. - Kevin Ryan, Attorney at Law