Alimony, also referred to as “spousal support,” is court-ordered payments from one spouse to the other spouse after divorce or separation has occurred. Essentially, alimony is ordered in the event that one spouse needs such funds to maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage and the other spouse has the ability to make such payments. Unfortunately, however, experiencing financial problems after divorce is common. The shift from a two-income household to a one-income household, carrying the whole burden of monthly costs, can be jarring and the adjustment can be difficult. What happens, however, should the payor spouse experience such financial difficulties after divorce that bankruptcy becomes necessary? Will alimony payments be impacted? Will alimony payments end? Let us take a look in more detail at the answer to these important questions.
If My Ex Goes Bankrupt, Will I Still Get Alimony?
Generally speaking, a spouse will still be required to pay alimony even in the event of bankruptcy. Domestic support obligations are not usually discharged in bankruptcy. Discharged means the cancellation of forgiveness of a debt. A domestic support obligation refers to debt and interest on such debt that is owed to certain parties, including:
- Former spouse
- Child of the debtor or the child’s parent or legal guardian
Support ordered under a separation agreement or divorce decree is considered to be a domestic support obligation.
While bankruptcy may not discharge alimony payments, there may be other impacts of a bankruptcy on an alimony award or payments. For instance, an automatic stay enforced as a result of filing for bankruptcy may impact a person’s obligation to pay an alimony award while bankruptcy is pending. When you file bankruptcy, an automatic stay is put on outstanding debt payments and efforts of creditors to collect on outstanding debt. There are, however, exceptions to the automatic stay that is in effect when bankruptcy is filed. For instance, a legal action related to alimony payments will be an exception. If the non-filing spouse is seeking the distribution of property that falls outside of the bankruptcy estate, the automatic stay does not prohibit bringing a civil or domestic relations case against the filing spouse. Furthermore, if the filing spouse has income that is withheld to meet domestic support obligations ordered by a court or another authorized agency, such withholding will proceed even in the event of a bankruptcy filing as an automatic stay will not be applicable in stopping wage garnishment going towards the payment of domestic support obligations.
A bankruptcy filing may, however, impact the potential for any modification of an alimony obligation. While alimony may not be dischargeable in bankruptcy, this does not mean that you will receive the same alimony payments as you did before your former spouse filed for bankruptcy. The majority of states will allow for the modification of an alimony award should the payor spouse file for bankruptcy.
Florida Family Law Attorneys
For more information on alimony and modification of alimony, talk to the knowledgeable team of divorce attorneys at Orlando Family Team. Contact us today.