How Are Alimony Payments Affected by Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy can put a person in a huge financial predicament and occurs when that person has not been spending his money wisely and his expenditure has exceeded his income. Bankruptcy disallows the person from making necessary or important payments, paying off creditors, getting loans from banks and has a lot of other negative impacts on a person’s financial situation.
If a couple is undergoing a divorce and one spouse is required to make alimony payments to the other spouse and that spouse has filed for bankruptcy, then it can be very difficult for him or her to make the alimony payments. If the spouse is bankrupt, he can use this as a tool to avoid or escape making spousal support payments.
Dischargeable and nondischargeable debts
Bankruptcy disallows a person from discharging his debts. There are certain bills, payments, and expenses that are completely avoidable when a person files for bankruptcy and these are specified in the laws in the state of California. But some debts are nondischargeable which means they cannot be avoided or eliminated just because the person is bankrupt. These include tax payments, loans taken and alimony.
Even though alimony or spousal support and child support are some of the payments that fall under the nondischargeable debt category there are two situations in which alimony payments would be exempted from this category and the spouse would be discharged from making these payments.
U.S. State laws regarding alimony and bankruptcy
Section 523 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code clarifies that persons or debtors cannot be discharged from making spousal or child support payments because of bankruptcy. It states that alimony payments are nondischargeable debts under the laws of federal bankruptcy, however, there are two exceptions to this rule –
Involvement of third parties
If a third party becomes involved in the spousal support arrangements, then the alimony payments become dischargeable even though the spouse is declared bankrupt. If the spouse hands over the burden of alimony payments to a relative in his family, then he is discharged from making the alimony payments himself.
Incorrect divorce documents
When a couple gets divorced the court awards them a divorce decree. This document is one of the most important documents in a divorce and specifies the reasons for the divorce and the terms and conditions of alimony/child support payments. If for any reason there are some mistakes or errors made in the divorce decree with regard to the nature and type of alimony required to be paid, then the spouse who is required to make the payments can be discharged of those debts if he is bankrupt.
To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation.