Hello and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you.
Question: “Hello - my ex husband is ordered in the divorce decree to pay (in addition to child support) 44% of child care costs. He has not paid me since May, so now owes approx $1,800. He told me tonight that he plans to file bankruptcy. What does that mean with regard to the $1,800 and the child care costs going forward?”
Answer: I’m happy to tell you that it means nothing. The Bankruptcy Code specifically states that domestic support obligations are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. In layman’s terms, that means that even after your ex files for bankruptcy protection, he will still owe the child care expenses. If you want to quote the specific statute for your ex, here it is from the Bankruptcy Code:
§ 523. Exceptions to discharge
(a) A discharge under section 727, 1141, 1228 (a), 1228 (b), or 1328 (b) of this title does not discharge an individual debtor from any debt—
(5) for a domestic support obligation;
Have I satisfactorily addressed your concerns? If not, then please feel free to ask for clarification.
DISCLAIMER: Please understand that the complexities of most legal problems cannot be adequately addressed in this setting, and that I am only licensed to practice law in the state of Maryland. Accordingly, you acknowledge (1) that we have not formed an attorney-client relationship, and (2) that my post is general information only and not specific legal advice.
To clarify, can you further define "domestic support obligation"? Understand that this is not child support or alimony, this is a separate payment for 44% of daycare. Please clarify. Thanks!
Question: “To clarify, can you further define "domestic support obligation"? Understand that this is not child support or alimony, this is a separate payment for 44% of daycare. Please clarify. Thanks!”
Answer: There is no official definition, so the courts have supplied their own definition. The cases I’ve seen have held that just about any payment that a spouse must make pursuant to a divorce decree is considered a “domestic support obligation.” For example, there are cases where orders to make mortgage payments are nondischargeable as “domestic support obligations,” or where orders to pay attorney’s fees for the divorce are nondischargeable as “domestic support obligations.” The underlying principle is that if the order to pay was given in order to help the other party make “ends meet,” then it is a “domestic support obligation.” Therefore, if you were a multi-millionaire who was easily capable of paying the child care yourself then you may have a problem (though I’m not even certain in that situation). But assuming that’s not the case, and the child care order was given to help your financial situation or to help your child to be in a beneficial environment that you otherwise could not afford to put him in, then you have an strong argument that the order is nondischargeable.
I will point out, however, that if your ex attempts to have it discharged, you may need to take action by arguing to the bankruptcy court that it shouldn’t be discharged. For that, you’ll want to hire an attorney.
I’m glad to be of help. Please feel free to come back to me should you have any future legal questions. You can specifically reach me by asking a question through my profile (where it says “Ask BoredAtty Your Legal Question”), or you can type “This question is for BoredAtty” in the subject line of any question.
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