07 Dec Chapter 7 Debtors Must Supply Trustee With Information About Child Support Payments
In a recent Chapter 7 341 hearing, the Chapter 7 trustee asked my client if he had any child support obligations. My client does and the trustee proceeded to hand my client a form asking for the name, address, and telephone number of the custodial parent (client’s ex-wife) as well as the address and phone number of the child support enforcement office.
I had not seen this practice before so after the hearing I called the trustee to ask what he did with this information. The trustee responded that under the BAPCPA changes to the Code, he was obligated to send a letter to the custodial parent (recipient of the child support) to advise the her that her ex-husband has filed for bankruptcy.
Now, child support debt is not dischargeable and there is nothing in the Bankruptcy Code that provides for a hold on the Chapter 7 discharge if the debtor is behind on his child support, but the trustee collects this information and sends out the notification letter nevertheless.
The Chapter 7 trustee I spoke with did not know why the Code required him to send out notifications but he was simply doing as he was told by the U.S. Trustee’s office.
I suspect that the purpose of this disclosure is to let the custodial parent know about the non-custodial parent’s financial situation. In addition, since bankruptcy filings are a matter of public record, this notice would presumably allow the custodial parent to have access to the other parent’s financial information, including information about assets.
The trend in the bankruptcy law has been to make divorce and domestic relations debts non-dischargeable although there are arguably some domestic debts that may be dischargeable. This extra notice may be intended to insure that custodial parents have an appropriate opportunity to object to the bankruptcy if she was not otherwise given notice.
In my Social Security disability practice, I often get questions from ex-wives and custodial moms who want to know if the non-custodial father has filed for disability. SSA will not reveal that information but a bankruptcy petition can yield a great deal of information about a debtor’s current sources of income that could be of benefit to a custodial parent.
If you owe child support – even if you are current – be prepared to reveal to your trustee the contact information for the custodial parent and recipient of your child support payment.
by Jonathan Ginsberg, Atlanta bankruptcy lawyer
Jonathan Ginsberg, Esq.
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