Divorce and Domestic Support Obligations
What Can be Addressed in a Bankruptcy?
Divorce and Domestic Support Obligations are determined under state law. Typically, where there is a Spousal/Partner support or divorce court order, a bankruptcy court will not disrupt the state court order.
The filing of a bankruptcy does not automatically stop a proceeding in divorce court from continuing. Only under certain circumstances will a bankruptcy proceeding impact a divorce proceeding. A Divorce Court will make preliminary and final orders with respect to visitation, marital status, division of property and debt, and domestic support obligations, such as child and spousal support. Keep in mind that California is a community property state, meaning both spouses are liable for all debts that they accumulate during the marriage, regardless of which spouse incurred the debt. When a couple gets divorced, both parties continue to be liable for joint debt obligations.
Once support orders are made, they will remain in effect until they are complete or changed by the divorce court. A Bankruptcy Court will not modify support orders.
Delinquent or back domestic support orders can be addressed in a bankruptcy. The support order that is owed is a non dischargeable debt, but a repayment schedule of that debt can be crafted in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.
If you pay domestic support, you may be able to seek a modification to the original support order. If you receive support, you may seek an enforcement action to collect back payments and to ensure future support.