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How bankruptcy may impact a child support obligation

Bankruptcy is a legal process that can alter an individual's financial stability as well as their ability to access credit. Readers of this Arizona family law blog are reminded that the information contained in this post is offered generally and not as specific legal advice. Individuals with detailed questions about their own child support and bankruptcy issues are encouraged to seek legal counsel with attorneys who can address their particular needs.

Different personal bankruptcy options can eliminate an individual's debts either through liquidation (the sale of an individual's assets) or repayment (creating a plan to pay off amounts due to creditors). When a parent falls behind on their child support payments, those sums due may be added in to their collective debts. However, unlike debts that are amassed from failing to pay off credit cards or other loans, child support debts cannot be written off or reduced in size.

Child support is awarded when it serves a child's best interests. It allows a custodial parent to receive financial support from a non-custodial parent, to help meet the child's financial needs. The reduction of a child support debt may directly impact the child's well-being; for this and other reasons, child support debts generally are not forgiven in bankruptcy.

Individuals with child support payments in arrears may benefit from exploring their options to seek modification to their outstanding support orders. A modification can change the child support payment plan based on various changed circumstances from the paying parent, the custodial parent or the child. When bankruptcy cannot excuse or eliminate a child support debt, a modification may offer a parent a chance to continue to support their child despite difficult financial circumstances.

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