Unfortunately, one of the biggest impacts of the novel coronavirus has been on the economy both across the country and here in Pennsylvania. As of the end of March 2020, the Pennsylvania unemployment rate was at 6%, making it one of the highest in the country.
Unemployment and Bankruptcy Filings
Experts have said Pennsylvania's fast response to the coronavirus, with Governor Tom Wolf's decision to close all non-essential businesses on March 19, 2020, might be one of the reasons why the unemployment rate is so high here. The early closures could have led to more people filing earlier for unemployment than in other states.
And with so many people facing unemployment, many Pennsylvanians will be looking into filing for bankruptcy over the next few months. What if your ex is one of those who files for bankruptcy and owes you child support? Here's what you need to know.
Child Support After Pennsylvania Bankruptcy
When you divorced, the courts considered several factors when determining how much your ex would have to pay, including (but not limited to):
- Age of the child(ren)
- Income of both parents
- Assets and liabilities of both parents
Once a child support order is filed, it is to be fulfilled until it is terminated. So if your child is eight years old and the child support order states your ex is to provide support until your child turns eighteen, they are obligated to fulfill this agreement, even if they file for bankruptcy in Pennsylvania.
According to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code Section 523, a bankruptcy does not discharge a person from paying a “domestic support obligation.” This includes child support, spousal support, and alimony.
Before filing for bankruptcy, your ex may seek to modify their child support order to lower how much they pay, especially if they have lost their job. If you have primary custody of your child and your ex-spouse loses their job and is unable to find another because of the coronavirus, Pennsylvania courts may favor modifying the child support order because of your ex-spouse's lost income.
If your ex-spouse waits a few months before filing for a modification, they are still obligated to continue making the support payments as outlined. If they miss any child support payments, they will be held liable for those payments.
There are other ways to collect the child support payments from your former spouse, including withholding income from their
- Unemployment insurance benefits
- Stimulus check from CARES Act
- State and federal tax refunds
- Workers' compensation benefits
- Social Security benefits
Pennsylvania Child Support Attorney
If your former spouse has lost their job and has expressed to you that they might file for bankruptcy, you are probably concerned about their ability to pay child support. Contacting Attorney Joseph D. Lento should be one of your first priorities, so you can learn what you can do to protect your child's best interests. Mr. Lento has a proven track record of fighting for his clients' needs and rights. Contact him today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a private consultation of your circumstances.