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In Illinois, as elsewhere, parents have a duty to support their children. Usually, parents take this obligation seriously. The court system certainly does. But, life is seldom so black and white.

Consider, for example, parents who want to support their children, but are facing bankruptcy proceedings. In these cases, the parent may be willing, but the bank account is not.

So, what happens to the parent’s child support obligation, if they file for bankruptcy? Not as much as a person may think.

While bankruptcy absolves many debts, it does not discharge all of them. Among the list of non-dischargeable debts include child support obligations. As a result, just because a parent files for bankruptcy does not mean that they will escape their child support obligations.

For example, say that a parent owes six months in unpaid child support (often called “arrears”) and then files for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy will not wipe away the six months in unpaid child support.

Additionally, while filing for bankruptcy generally puts a halt to creditors trying to collect, child support is different. The recipient parent remains free to enforce the other parent’s child support obligations.

How about a child’s medical debt? That is another good question because medical debt is generally dischargeable in bankruptcy. Not true though for medical bills incurred by a parent’s child.

Why? Because bankruptcy does not apply to debts “in the nature of support.” In other words, debts related to a child’s welfare and upbringing, including medical bills.

Bankruptcy can complicate family law issues. To learn more about how it does, Illinoisans may benefit from discussing their circumstances with an experienced family-law attorney.

Source:, “Child Support and Bankruptcy,” accessed on Nov. 23, 2015