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What is the effect of an estranged spouse or ex-spouse filing a bankruptcy case?

  • Alimony and child support obligations are generally not discharged in bankruptcy unless determined to be a disguised attempt to divide property. Such claims are likely entitled to priority status among creditors if there is a distribution in the case.
  • If the debtor has filed a chapter 13 bankruptcy, the child support creditor is likely prevented from pursuing the pre-bankruptcy child support outside the context of the bankruptcy case.
  • If the debtor has filed chapter 7 bankruptcy, the creditor owed child support may have to limit his or her attempts to collect to property that is not property of the bankruptcy estate.
  • Equitable distribution claims cannot be discharged in chapter 7 cases but can be in chapter 13 cases.

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