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Benefit from the Experience of Attorneys Bill and Valerie Sherman Former Assistant Attorney General, Assistant County Attorneys and Magistrate Judge

Can I Include My Alimony and Child Support In My Bankruptcy?

Question: I used to work at Coca-Cola but I lost that job after I was accused of stealing. But then I got a job with Delta Airlines, which I lost after I was arrested for a drug-related felony. So I used my credit cards for just about everything—food, mortgage payments, car loans, Atlanta Braves, Hawks & Falcons tickets. I even got tickets to University of Georgia and Georgia Tech football and basketball games. I thought it would all work out. But I could not find another job and I also got divorced. Now I have to make child support payments and alimony payments. If I file bankruptcy—either a chapter 7 or a chapter 13 here in Georgia, can I put my child support payments and my alimony to my ex-wife in the bankruptcy? I can really use that extra money.

Answer: Due to the prevalence of divorce and particularly in this difficult economy, your question is a common one. But, no, you cannot. Federal law is specific and bankruptcy filers are not able to include child support payments or alimony payments in a bankruptcy filing—either a chapter 7 or a chapter 13. And that is true throughout the United States of America, not just here in Georgia. A chapter 7 bankruptcy can eliminate just about all types of debt—credit cards, medical bills, repossessions, rent payments. But child support and alimony, along with student loan debt and IRS obligations are (just about always) non-dischargeable, i.e. you have to pay them. Child support payments, however, can be modified by a Georgia Superior court, but not a bankruptcy court. So you may wish to determine if your situation is one that can be modified so that you pay a lower amount of support.

If you have a question on debt or bankruptcy, please call us directly at 678-215-4106 to discuss the specifics of your situation and how we can help you.

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