What Happens If My Ex Files for Bankruptcy and Owes Child Support?

Posted by Joseph Lento | May 06, 2020 | 0 Comments

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 our Family Law Team should be one of your first priorities, so you can learn what you can do to protect your child's best interests. Our Family Law Team has a proven track record of fighting for our clients' needs and rights. Contact us today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a private consultation of your circumstances.

About the Author

Joseph Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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The LLF Law Firm has unparalleled experience practicing Family Law in Pennsylvania. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Our Family Law Team will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

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