Will I Still Get Alimony if My Ex Goes Bankrupt?

Spousal maintenance can be a hotly contested issue in a divorce. In Arizona, either spouse has the right to request that the court grant an order for spousal maintenance, more commonly known as “alimony.” While either spouse has the right to make such a request, there is no guarantee that the court will award alimony. In fact, even when such a request for alimony is granted, the award will commonly be short in duration. This is because alimony is really seen as a mechanism for assisting a lower-earning spouse in adjusting to life after marriage. Alimony can allow this lower-earning spouse to get job training and further education in order to eventually become fully self-supporting.

Unfortunately, the issues involved in a divorce can linger for years into the future. While you may have been awarded alimony, you may struggle to get your spouse to make these payments or you may constantly worry about whether your spouse will find a way out of having to make such payments. For instance, if your spouse has recently filed for bankruptcy or has mentioned to you of an intent to file bankruptcy, you may be worried about whether this means your days of receiving alimony are numbered. This, however, is not necessarily true.

Will I Still Get Alimony If My Ex Goes Bankrupt?

A former spouse filing bankruptcy, in and of itself, does not mean you will stop receiving alimony nor does it mean your ex will be able to get out of paying you any alimony payments he or she may have missed in the past. This is because not all debts are dischargeable in bankruptcy. Among non-dischargeable debts in bankruptcy are “domestic support obligations.” This can include child support and alimony. This means alimony debts will not be dischargeable in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, alimony will be considered to be a priority debt and included in the monthly payment plan. The court ordered alimony payments will continue to be made throughout the bankruptcy proceedings and after the bankruptcy proceedings have ended.

While bankruptcy may not mean an end to your former spouse’s obligation to pay you alimony, situations that may lead a person to file bankruptcy may mean that he or she is able to successfully petition for a modification of the alimony support obligation. Your ex may have lost a job which was a contributing factor in filing bankruptcy. While job loss will not automatically result in the termination or reduction of a spousal support award, your former spouse may petition the court for a modification of the spousal maintenance order.

In order to be granted a modification of spousal maintenance order, your former spouse must be able to show that his or her circumstances has substantially changed. Job loss could be such a substantial change. It is important to note, however, that modification of a spousal maintenance order is not retroactive. Your former spouse will still be under the obligation to pay any arrearages you might be entitled to.

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Are you frustrated with the lingering issues of divorce? Have you had enough of dealing with your former spouse? Get the help you need from Cohen Family Law. Contact us today.