Can alimony or child support be discharged in bankruptcy?


Support obligations cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.


Attorney Tom Olsen: Jim, I had a client last week. She had gotten divorce many years ago. In that divorce, the husband got all the properties, but he's also obligated to make all the mortgage payments. Probably it happens more often than you might think. Shortly after divorce, he files bankruptcy, doesn't make these mortgage payments, and now all the lenders are looking at her. That's really a shame but probably more common than you might think.


Attorney Jim Monroe: Yes. Depending upon the chapter you filed, whether or not his obligation to his wife is discharged or not, depends upon the marital settlement agreement. Under Chapter 7, he may still be obligated to his wife to pay on that mortgage. But in Chapter 13, if he filed a Chapter 13 under a lot of circumstances, that obligation, both to the mortgage company and to his wife, is going to be discharged.

Attorney Tom Olsen: I think that she said, "Look, Tom. If it really comes down to, if I had to, I can sue him if I need to." But he doesn't have anything. That's the problem. He was also, I think, at least, attempted to wipe out child support and alimony through that bankruptcy.

Attorney Jim Monroe: No, you can't do that. There's a section of the code 523(a)(5), which makes the support obligation non-dischargeable. A debt is one thing, a support obligation is another. Those are never dischargeable in the bankruptcy.