Putting a spousal support agreement in place, unfortunately, does not ensure that your spouse will abide by the agreement and continue to pay alimony to you. Some paying spouses look for ways to get out of their support obligation. In some cases, paying spouses file for bankruptcy thinking they can get a bankruptcy judge to declare that they no longer have to pay alimony.

Learning that your former spouse has declared bankruptcy might send a chill down your spine. However, as Forbes explains, just because a person files for bankruptcy does not mean a judge will release them from all of their debt obligations.

Bankruptcy and alimony

Bankruptcies can rid people of different kinds of debt, such as credit card debt, overdue utility payments, overdue rents, civil judgments, and medical bills. The idea of bankruptcy is to help a person stuck in debt to climb back up to fiscal solvency and make a fresh start.

However, alimony is a domestic support obligation, which means courts cannot discharge it even in a bankruptcy proceeding. Similarly, a spouse cannot void child support obligations using bankruptcy. Courts have deemed that it is more important for a person to support a former spouse and children even if the paying person has fallen on hard times.

How bankruptcy may help with alimony

Bankruptcy may actually help you to receive your spousal payments. Bankruptcy does not discharge alimony, but it does discharge other debts. Debt discharges may relieve the financial burden on your former spouse and make it more likely that your spouse could divert finances towards your alimony payments.

Also, if your spouse has filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your spouse will repay some creditors through a repayment plan. Some debts will take priority, meaning the repayment plan will pay them first. In all likelihood, your alimony payments will take priority in the plan.