Dear Liz: Why are child support arrears reported to credit agencies if they cannot be discharged in bankruptcy? And, why is it one can discharge some federal income taxes in bankruptcy but not child support?
Answer: Child support is not a run-of-the-mill debt. It’s a family support obligation, and one of the few debts that can land you in jail if you ignore it.
That’s because the welfare of your kids is at stake. The Internal Revenue Service will still be able to carry on if you negotiate a settlement or discharge some of your debt in bankruptcy, but skipping your child support obligations could doom your children to poverty, poor health and a host of other ills.
Although you can’t erase your obligation in bankruptcy, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing — which involves a payment plan — may enable you to catch up on any missed payments. A bankruptcy attorney can provide details.
In any case, the ability to erase a debt in bankruptcy isn’t among the criteria for reporting debts to credit bureaus. Other debts that typically can’t be discharged, such as student loans, also show up on credit reports.