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Chapter 13 immediately stops the collection of past-due child or spousal support. But to keep that protection you must meet some conditions.


Last week we showed how Chapter 13 stops the collection of unpaid child and spousal support, while Chapter 7 doesn’t. But we ended by emphasizing that anyone can quickly lose this huge benefit of Chapter 13 “adjustment of debts”. Avoiding this requires strictly complying with some conditions. These conditions are arguably sensible ones. But you need to know and understand them so you don’t lose this crucial Chapter 13 benefit. Because these conditions are so important we focus today’s entire blog post on them.

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Chapter 13 DOES stop the collection of unpaid child or spousal support from your after-filing income and other assets. Chapter 7 does NOT.

Last week we discussed situations in which Chapter 7 would help if you’re behind on child or spousal support payments. We made clear that Chapter 7 “straight bankruptcy” provides only limited help. Mostly it gives you relief from your other debts so that you can concentrate on catching up on support. Chapter 13 “adjustment of debts” is a much more powerful option when Chapter 7 is not enough.

The Main Benefits of Chapter 13 When Behind on Support

Chapter 13 takes much, much longer than Chapter 7, and is generally more expensive. But it provides some remarkable benefits compared to Chapter 7. These benefits can make the longer time and greater expense of Chapter 13 more than worthwhile. The main benefits of Chapter 13 are that:

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Chapter 7 does not stop the collection of child or spousal support, nor provide any procedure to pay the support. It may still help enough.


If you are behind on child or spousal support payments Chapter 7 may or may not be a good solution.

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Posted on in Chapter 13

Chapter 13 gives you some huge advantages over Chapter 7 for paying your priority debts. You’re protected while you pay what you can afford.


Priority Debts under No-Asset and Asset Chapter 7

Our last two blog posts described how Chapter 7 can sometimes be a sensible way of dealing with priority debts. (Those are ones you can’t “discharge”—legally write off, the most common being recent income taxes and child/spousal support.) Our blog post two weeks ago: a no-asset Chapter 7 case discharges all or most of your other debts. So then afterwards you can better afford to pay your priority ones. Last week: in an asset Chapter 7 case your bankruptcy trustee collects your unprotected asset(s). He or she then pays part or all of your priority debt out of the proceeds from selling those asset(s).

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Chapter 13 gives you valuable power to force your mortgage lender to be up front about how much you owe, and to efficiently dispute the amount.

Catching Up on Your Mortgage over Time

A Chapter 13 case gives you the power to catch up on your home mortgage(s) over an extended period. This “adjustment of debts” type of bankruptcy can give you up to 5 years to catch up.

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