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Bankruptcy and child support in California

People who pay child support as well as those who receive it might wonder how bankruptcy may affect payments, especially when the person filing owes back child support. Although people who are ordered to pay child support may erroneously believe that their obligation to do so is stayed upon filing bankruptcy, this is not the case.

Child support debts generally may not be discharged in bankruptcy. Similarly, the bankruptcy filing does not act as a stay on continued payments of child support, either. Parents who file for bankruptcy must thus continue making their child support payments while the bankruptcy is pending, and their obligation to pay will not end with the bankruptcy discharge.

When a parent owes arrears in child support, the arrears amount will also not be discharged. A parent whose financial circumstances have significantly changed since the child support order was issued may file a request for a modification of the amount ordered. He or she must continue paying the ordered amount until and unless the amount is adjusted by the court. The arrears amount will not disappear and must be paid.

Courts believe both parents of a child have a financial obligation to contribute to the child's support. As such, child support does not end with bankruptcy. Allowing child support to be discharged in bankruptcy would be contrary to notions of public policy. People who have child support cases and cannot make payments or are not receiving the support they are owed may want to meet with a family law attorney. An attorney may file appropriate motions with the court to either request a modification or to notify the court that an ordered parent is in violation of the court's child support order.

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