My Ex Filed for Bankruptcy: Will I Stop Getting Alimony?
During the divorce process, couples settle several issues through divorce court or an alternative to divorce court. For example, couples with children settle timesharing and child support matters, whereas all couples, including those with no children, settle matters concerning division of assets and alimony. All these matters are usually settled before a divorce can be finalized. Once decisions have been made, each party is expected to abide by the laid down rules.
In Florida divorce cases, alimony decisions are always made after careful consideration of each party’s financial capability. So, what happens when an obligor’s financial situation changes after divorce to the extent that they decide to file for bankruptcy? In such a situation, does bankruptcy eliminate an individual’s responsibility to continue making alimony payments? Generally, alimony obligations are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Therefore, if your ex-spouse has filed for bankruptcy, they will not stop paying alimony.
Alimony and Divorce
The main reason why one party pays alimony to the other is to support them until they can financially support themselves.
When making alimony decisions, many factors are put into consideration. Some of these factors are;
- the length of the marriage
- the economic position of each spouse
- each spouse’s age
- the physical and emotional condition of each spouse
The general rule is that the party that needs help getting back on their feet should receive that help. Therefore, alimony cannot be discharged in bankruptcy because doing so would negatively affect the receiving party’s ability to lead a comfortable life. If alimony were dischargeable in bankruptcy, many obligees would find themselves in terrible financial situations.
As long as an overdue alimony payment meets some general guidelines, it cannot be eliminated or forgiven in a bankruptcy case. For example, a debt must be considered alimony (and must be alimony and not wrongfully classified as alimony) to be deemed non-dischargeable. Also, the alimony obligation must have been formally ordered in your divorce agreement. However, if a divorce ruling wrongly stipulates that your ex-spouse’s obligation is alimony, but it is not alimony, your ex-spouse might be able to discharge the obligation through bankruptcy. Secondly, if you assigned the duty of collection of alimony to a third party, your ex-spouse might also be able to discharge the alimony obligation.
What Happens When My Ex-Spouse Files for Bankruptcy and He/She Has Alimony Debt?
Generally, once your ex-spouse files for bankruptcy, they will need to find a way to keep making alimony payments. For example, your ex-spouse might need to re-arrange their finances and pay off the debt over a certain period. Therefore, if your ex-spouse filed for bankruptcy with the hope that they might eliminate their alimony debt, you most likely have no reason to worry.
Alimony is not like other debts that are dischargeable in bankruptcy. It is a necessary expense that cannot be canceled. Alimony is always given high priority when a person files for bankruptcy. A filer is usually expected to pay their alimony debt and other domestic support debts before paying non-priority debts.
Contact Joyce A. Julian, P.A. for More Information Today
If you need more details or are worried about how bankruptcy can affect alimony, contact a Fort Lauderdale family attorney at the office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A., today to schedule a consultation.