Child support payments in California are typically ordered as part of a final divorce decree though may also be issued when a couple is legally separated but remain married. Like nearly every state in the United States, there is an expectation both parents should financially support their children until they reach the age of majority. California courts will use standard child support guidelines when assessing the amount of support that must be paid.
When you are facing financial challenges, one of the first things you may fail to pay is child support. This will result in you falling behind, could result in wage garnishment, may impact your right to drive, and have other unintended consequences. If you are considering consulting with a bankruptcy attorney in Los Angeles about filing for bankruptcy, it is important you understand how child support payments are handled.
Child Support Areas and Bankruptcy
Filing for bankruptcy is a major life decision and can have a long-term impact on your ability to obtain credit. However, it is important to understand what steps a bankruptcy attorney in Los Angeles can do to help mitigate your obligation to pay child support. Under bankruptcy laws, most non-secured debt may be eliminated if you file Chapter 7; child support is the exception to that rule. Whether you are behind one payment, or a full year’s payment makes no difference, child support payments must continue even if you file for bankruptcy protection.
The news is not all grim for those who are dealing with child support arrears. Those payments, which are behind, may be able to be restructured for a period of up to 60 months if you opt to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy. However, keep in mind, you will still be obligated to maintain regular payments during the time you are repaying the bankruptcy trustee. Chapter 13 may also prevent you from being assessed late fees, or other penalties for failure to pay child support in California.
What Bankruptcy Filings Can Accomplish
When you are behind in child support payments and have your wages garnished, the problem is you may fall behind on other obligations including mortgage payments, credit card payments, and even car payments. While Chapter 7 will not help you in most circumstances, Chapter 13 may help you stop wage garnishment proceedings. This is because an automatic stay can be used to release the garnishment and once the court approves a Chapter 13 repayment plan, no new attachments may be placed against you for the amount, which was outstanding at the time of filing. Keep in mind, you must maintain on-time payments for the repayment plan, and you must remain current on court-ordered support payments once the plan has been approved to maintain these protections.
If you are currently paying California court-ordered child support payments and you are facing challenges with other non-support related payments, do not wait until your finances spiral out of control. Instead, contact a Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney at Oaktree Law today. We can help you evaluate your current situation and determine if bankruptcy is the best option to help you get back on track. Call us today at (562) 219-2979 !