Does an Automatic Stay Pause Child Support Payments?

Family next to calculator and money

While the automatic stay is a crucial feature of the bankruptcy process designed to provide immediate relief to debtors, it doesn’t stop the obligation to pay child support or any other domestic support. Despite filing for bankruptcy petition, the debtor is still required to make domestic support payments as usual.

Under normal circumstances, the automatic stay halts most collection activities, including foreclosures, repossessions, and lawsuits, providing the debtor with breathing space to reorganize their financial affairs. The primary purpose of the automatic stay is to prevent creditors from taking any further action to collect debts from the debtor, thereby maintaining the status quo while the bankruptcy case is pending.

Child Support Is a Higher Priority Debt

Child support obligations are considered a special category of debt under bankruptcy law. The law recognizes the necessity of these payments for the child's well-being and provides specific protections to ensure that child support obligations are met, even when the parent responsible for payments files for bankruptcy.

Unlike most other types of debt, child support is considered a high priority because it directly impacts the welfare of a child.

Enforcement of Child Support During Bankruptcy

Not only are those who file for bankruptcy still responsible for paying child support, they aren’t protected from child support enforcement actions. While the automatic stay restricts creditors from pursuing debt collection, it does not prevent actions to establish or modify child support orders.

State agencies and custodial parents can continue to enforce child support orders through wage garnishments, tax refund interceptions, and other collection methods. Bankruptcy courts recognize the importance of ensuring that child support obligations are met and allow these enforcement actions to proceed despite the automatic stay.

Contact a Lawyer for Legal Assistance

Buchalter & Pelphrey can provide the legal assistance you need when you are dealing with debt. Bankruptcy can be the right option for you when you’re overwhelmed by what you owe to your creditors, but filing for bankruptcy can help you eliminate certain debts, which can make it easier to afford other non-dischargeable debts such as child support.

For more information about bankruptcy and how we can help, contact us online.

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