Financial issues impact everyone regardless of marital status, but the divorce process often takes a significant toll. It’s not uncommon for people to file for bankruptcy in the years following a divorce, but there is a lot of misunderstanding about how bankruptcy does or does not affect child support obligations.

If you have ended up in arrears for your child support obligation due to financial constraints and other unpaid bills, it may be tempting to think about filing for bankruptcy to discharge your debts. While this may work for some types of debts, child support falls under the umbrella of payments “in the nature of support.” This means that the obligation, including present and past-due support, cannot be discharged as part of a bankruptcy filing.

There may be some other options, however, if you are unable to make your current support payments. If your financial situation has undergone a significant change, such as the unintentional loss of a job, it may be possible to request that the courts modify your child support order. These petitions are not always granted, and even if it is, it may not be a permanent modification. A family law attorney can help you understand if you might qualify for this and how to begin the process of filing.

In the interim, it’s important that you continue to make all efforts to pay your child support payments on time and in full. Doing so can help you avoid the very real possibility of the child support enforcement agency taking action to ensure the child support is being paid.

Source: FindLaw, “Child Support and Bankruptcy,” accessed Jan. 07, 2016