It is not uncommon for noncustodial parents to owe thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars in back child support. So, it’s no surprise why a parent with child support debt might ask, “Can child support be included in Chapter 13 bankruptcy?”
Child support debt cannot be wiped out or erased in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and it cannot be discharged or reduced through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but that does not mean a Chapter 13 can’t help because it certainly can. In this article, we discuss child support debt and how it is treated in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Chapter 13 Cannot Wipe Out Child Support Debt
Essentially, Congress decided that child support is so important that it cannot be discharged in any type of bankruptcy, not even a Chapter 7 or 13. If you decide to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your child support debt will be treated as a “priority debt,” and it cannot be reduced or eliminated through a bankruptcy discharge.
While some other debts may be reduced through Chapter 13, that is not possible with child support debt. You will have to pay all outstanding child support arrears in full, and these will be paid through your Chapter 13 repayment plan, which takes 3 to 5 years.
How Does Chapter 13 Help?
How can Chapter 13 help your situation? How can it help you catch up on your back child support so you come current? One of the key advantages of Chapter 13 is that it lets people organize their debts and pay back a portion or all of their debt through a realistic repayment plan. When you file bankruptcy, your pre-bankruptcy child support arrears have to be included in the Chapter 13 repayment plan. You will also have to continue making your regular child support payments.
The good news is that when you have child support debt, it may actually help reduce how much you owe to unsecured creditors, such as hospitals, and credit card companies because child support is a “priority debt” and therefore has to be paid before unsecured creditors. By filing a Chapter 13, it’s easier to get caught up on child support while discharging a larger percentage of your unsecured debt!
To learn more about including child support debt in a Chapter 13 plan and how the automatic stay can help prevent child support collection from your bankruptcy estate, contact Nguyen Law Group for a free case evaluation!