Does Filing Bankruptcy Impact Alimony Obligations?

Divorce and financial struggles often go hand in hand on multiple levels. On one level, financial issues are often cited as some of the more prominent reasons for seeking a divorce in the first place. On another level, divorce can exacerbate or lead to financial difficulties, particularly when the fiscal adjustment that comes with divorce is not planned for. With the fact that many find the financial transition after divorce to be a struggle, you may be worried about your former spouse’s continuing ability to meet his or her alimony payment obligations to you. What if your former spouse’s financial situation gets to the point where he or she seeks bankruptcy? Will that impact alimony obligations?

Does Filing Bankruptcy Impact Alimony Obligations?

First, it is important to make clear that back alimony payments, like child support, are not considered to be dischargeable debts in bankruptcy. Once the alimony payment obligation arises, it will continue and bankruptcy cannot be used as a mechanism to clear such an obligation. While bankruptcy may not be used in such a way, however, bankruptcy can be useful to a person struggling financially who may be in arrears of alimony or child support payments. You see, bankruptcy can either discharge other outstanding debt obligations or consolidate debt obligations into a manageable monthly payment. This frees up resources or enables a debtor to better meet and prioritize paying off financial obligations such as alimony.

It is also important to note that terminating alimony or modifying alimony is not within the purview of the bankruptcy court. Filing bankruptcy will not, in and of itself, lead to termination or modification of an alimony award as that is not the role of the bankruptcy court. Nor does it mean that alimony will end up being modified or terminated in family court simply because your former spouse filed for bankruptcy.

While bankruptcy may not merit modification of an alimony award, however, events leading a person to seek bankruptcy may justify a court’s modification of an alimony award. In Florida, the law allows for an alimony award to be modified or terminated in the event of an unexpected, involuntary, and substantial change in circumstances that impacts a former spouse’s ability to make alimony payments. For instance, a job loss could both lead to a former spouse filing for bankruptcy and also justify modification of an alimony award. That is for the family court or child support hearing officer to decide. Your former spouse would, however, have to specifically seek out such a modification. Filing for bankruptcy alone will not mean the alimony award will be impacted.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Unfortunately, the complications do not always end after the divorce decree. If you are having problems with alimony, child support, or other family law issues, the trusted team at Orlando Family Team is here to provide you with continuing legal support. We are here for you and your family every step of the way. Contact us today.