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Can Alimony Be Discharged in Bankruptcy?

If your ex-spouse filed for bankruptcy, you may be worried about how your alimony is affected.

Generally, domestic support obligations cannot be discharged (forgiven) when someone files a bankruptcy claim.

Domestic support obligations (DSO) include debts that are owed to a spouse, former spouse, child of the debtor or that child’s parent or guardian, or a government agency (11 U.S.C. § 101 (14A)). Thus, alimony should still be dispensed. However, there are effects of bankruptcy on alimony.

Can Alimony Be Forgiven Under Chapter 7?

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, certain debts can be forgiven. In most cases, credit card debts, personal loans, and medical bills can be canceled. Student loans and DSOs are not eligible to be discharged. When filing Chapter 7, other divorce obligations (like property division agreements) are also ineligible for discharge.

What Debts Cannot Be Discharged in Chapter 13?

While your former partner may want to file for bankruptcy to avoid alimony payments, they will run into issues. When filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy claim, generally, some debts are not eligible for forgiveness, such as:

  • Child support
  • Alimony
  • Criminal fines
  • Educational loans
  • Drunk driving liabilities

Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the filer can try to discharge property or debt division agreements, like hold harmless agreements or obligations they have in terms of offering cash in place of other assets. For instance, if in a divorce agreement a spouse keeps the house under the condition of paying the other spouse a monthly fee, that payment may be waived.

The Effects of Bankruptcy on Alimony

In filing for bankruptcy, the filer may be able to make modifications to alimony payment obligations. During bankruptcy proceedings, the filer may receive an automatic stay, which should help them keep creditors at bay. Typically, the stay shouldn’t affect your alimony, though. If it does, seek legal aid.

Enforcing Alimony Orders

If your spouse recently filed for bankruptcy, you should speak with an attorney about what to expect in your case and how they can fight for you. If your spouse is simply unwilling to pay your alimony, you also have legal recourse. An experienced attorney will know how to best support you and file necessary motions to collect your past-due payments.

If you need help ensuring your ex-partner makes alimony payments, reach out to an experienced divorce lawyer. At Conner & Roberts, PLLC, we are advocates for our clients through every part of their divorce. With nearly four decades of combined experience, our attorneys are prepared to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. For a free initial consultation, call our office at (423) 299-4489 or contact us online.
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