Family Law and Divorce Attorneys in Virginia

COVID-19, Spousal Support & Bankruptcy

The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has had devastating effects on the American economy. Not only have so many people lost their jobs, but it’s trickling down into family law matters. Many non-custodial parents who pay child support are finding it hard to keep up with their payments and some people who pay spousal support (alimony) are also having trouble paying their monthly support payments.

According to the Virginia Employment Commission, the unemployment rate in the state rose to 10.6 percent in April, which was 7.7 percentage points above the unemployment rate from April of 2019. The Commission went on to explain that employment fell in all major industry sectors, however, the heaviest job losses were seen in leisure and hospitality. Other employment losses were seen in the following industries:

  • Food services
  • Arts
  • Entertainment
  • Recreation
  • Accommodations
  • Professional and business services
  • Miscellaneous services
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Government employment

How about you? Have you lost your job due to the coronavirus pandemic and if so, have you been ordered to pay spousal support? If you have been paying spousal support and now you can’t afford it because you’re out of work, you may be wondering if you can file bankruptcy and have the spousal support discharged. Read on as we shed light on this matter.

Can Spousal Support be Discharged in Bankruptcy?

Spousal support CANNOT be discharged (erased or wiped out) in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You can’t include child support in bankruptcy either. Why? Because Congress felt that spousal support and child support were too important to include in bankruptcy.

So, if you’re having trouble paying your spousal support payments because of COVID-19-related unemployment or for another reason, your only option is to ask the court to reduce or terminate your payments since you have experienced a significant change in financial circumstances. While there is no guarantee that your support payments will be terminated, it is possible and at the very least, a reduction is highly likely if you’re out of work.

Need help with a spousal support matter? Contact Malinowski Hubbard today by calling (703) 935-4222. We’d be happy to help you find a practical solution.

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