Can I file bankruptcy on back child support?

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Question:

My wife and I divorced four years ago. At the time, I was making good money, so she was awarded pretty good alimony and also a lot of child support for our two children. (She got custody of them.) However, I lost my job 14 months ago and my severance package has run out. The alimony and child support is killing me. If I declare bankruptcy, can I get out from under them?

Answer:

Unfortunately for you, no—bankruptcy will not help you with these particular obligations. There are certain kinds of debts that are not dischargeable in bankruptcy—that is, debts which bankruptcy does not reduce or eliminate. Possibly chief among them are alimony and child support. If you have other debts you cannot pay, bankruptcy may still be a good option for you; however, if the only debts you’re looking to escape are alimony and child support, it’s not. In that case, you are better off looking to get your support and alimony orders modified, even if only until you find a new job, on the basis of hardship.

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