Domestic support obligations include spousal and child support obligations. When a court order or separation agreement instructs a person to make payments to a second party, this type of obligation is created. This party may be a former spouse, a child from a previous relationship, the federal, state, or local government, or any agreement of a similar nature.
In the case of a former marriage in which one spouse pays alimony to his or her ex-spouse, such payments are not dischargeable. Less well-known is the fact that other payment arrangements you may have made with your spouse are also non-dischargeable. For instance, if a couple divorces and the man agrees to pay for half of his ex-wife's car, the amount he pledged will likely not be discharged if he declares bankruptcy. Therefore, even after the bankruptcy is discharged, he is still responsible for half of the payments on that automobile.
One of the few instances in which a support obligation is dischargeable is when it has been transferred to a private entity. In the previous example, if the wife used the husband's remittances to her as collateral for another purchase, the debt would likely be dischargeable.
There are also situations in which normally dischargeable debts, such as credit card debts, become nondischargeable. For instance, if you racked up a $10,000 credit card bill while married and then filed for bankruptcy, the debt would become non-dischargeable and you would end up owing nothing. However, if the credit card company attempts to collect the $10,000 from your wife, she may hold you accountable. In this instance, the debt could now be categorized as a domestic support obligation and ruled non-dischargeable.
When registering for bankruptcy, a trustee will be appointed. He will be primarily responsible for determining which debts are dischargeable and which are not, based on a thorough examination of the case's facts. The key from your perspective is to presume nothing until the bankruptcy has been finalized and you have written confirmation of all remaining debts.
Whenever you have questions about what is or is not dischargeable under your state's bankruptcy laws, consult your bankruptcy attorney or trustee.""
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