The short and simple answer to this question is yes – if a non custodial parent files bankruptcy, he will not be excused from paying any of his child support obligations, past, present or future. In fact, the Bankruptcy Code goes to great lengths to ensure financial security for custodial parents who are owed child support.
First, the Code classifies child support payments as “non-dischargeable debt.” Specifically, Bankruptcy Code sections 523(a)(5) and (a)(15) provide that any form of domestic support obligation is non-dischargeable. This means that the discharge order that cancels other types of debt like credit card bills or medical expenses will have no effect on child support obligations.
Second, the Code requires bankruptcy filers to give specific notice of his bankruptcy filing to his ex-spouse. This means that custodial parents who may have had difficulty finding out where the non-custodial parent is working or how much he is earning will now have access to this information.
Third, the Code provides that if there is a trustee distribution by either a Chapter 7 trustee or a Chapter 13 trustee, a custodial parents stands at the head of the line to get paid. This Bankruptcy Code protection, by the way, extends to child support recovery agencies, and not just custodial parents.
Bankruptcy filings are a matter of public record and can help custodial parents gather the information necessary to enforce child support orders. If you suspect that your ex has filed bankruptcy, you and your attorney can easily obtain copies of all of his bankruptcy filings through the PACER online records system.
The specific rights accruing to a custodial parent will vary depending on the type of bankruptcy filed by the non-custodial parent but the underlying goal of the law is to help custodial parents get paid.