In New Jersey family law matters, courts always make decisions with the best interests of children in mind and generally believe both parents should be involved in a child’s life. While this means both parents might receive some type of access to a child such as physical custody or visitation rights, this also comes with certain responsibilities. One parent could be ordered to pay child support to help support a minor, and the obligation to make payments usually still exists even when a parent files for bankruptcy.
While some debts can be discharged by filing for bankruptcy, child support payments usually do not qualify for this, as both of a child’s parents have a responsibility to care for the child under law. This means a parent who filed for bankruptcy is expected to keep making any child support payments, and any actions in process to establish paternity or set up support payments will usually continue.
In addition to child support, other debts associated with a child usually cannot be discharged. This applies to expenses related to a child’s upbringing and may include bills for a child’s education or medical care. A parent is still entitled to late child support payments even when the other parent files for bankruptcy, and parents can seek help when not receiving payments. This way, government agencies may be able to garnish wages or make inquiries when support is overdue.
To avoid negative consequences, a parent should continue making payments and file a motion to modify a support order when considering bankruptcy. This could lower the amount of future payments, but a parent must pay the full amount of any late child support. This also applies when a change in circumstances like a layoff occurs, and legal assistance may be necessary when modifying an existing child support order.