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The effects of bankruptcy on child support

Pennsylvania parents who pay child support and who are filing for bankruptcy cannot have their obligations discharged as part of the process. If a change in circumstances has made it impossible for them to keep up with child support payments, then they need to go to court and file a motion for modification of the child support order. However, this will not affect any amounts that are in arrears, which will still need to be paid.

Parents should also know that debts that are related to the support of their children are also not subject to discharge. It may be complicated to determine what types of obligations fall under this category, but a child's medical debts might be one type. Other expenses related to raising a child also may not be included in a bankruptcy discharge. Due to the complexity of this area, parents may need to speak with an attorney to determine whether any debts related to their children might be included.

A parent who normally receives child maintenance payments but has not in some time may wish to contact the Pennsylvania Bureau of Child Support Enforcement. There are a number of ways that the state may enforce these payments regardless of whether the other parent has declared bankruptcy.

Having a parenting agreement in place that includes provisions for dealing with changes in circumstances including financial problems and bankruptcy may help to prevent conflicts over these issues or may at least result in easier resolution. Individuals who are in the process of a divorce may wish to work with an attorney to include these points in a parenting agreement while those who are already divorced may want to consider revising the agreement. Ultimately, a court will strive toward a solution that serves the best interests of the child.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Support and Bankruptcy", accessed on March 2, 2015

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