Filing for bankruptcy may be the right move for you to get out of debt. But if you’re dealing with
family law issues at the same time, you might wonder if one court case will affect the other. In particular, will bankruptcy affect your child custody and visitation rights?
The short answer is no. Bankruptcies are filed through bankruptcy court, while divorce and child custody issues are dealt with in family court. In addition, judges make decisions regarding child custody and visitation based on what’s in the child’s best interests, not whether one parent is having financial complications. That being said, there are some rare instances in which bankruptcy could affect the child’s best interests and therefore affect child custody and visitation rights. Learn what this means, and then call our lawyers for legal support.
Can Bankruptcy Keep You from Seeing Your Children?
In most cases, filing for bankruptcy won’t stop you from getting custody or visitation with your children. Judges make decisions based on whether the children will be safe, cared for, and able to get their needs met in their household. Most people who file for bankruptcy still have a home, car, household goods, and clothing for their family. If this applies to you, your family court case likely won’t be affected by bankruptcy.
However, if your financial situation leaves you homeless or unable to buy food, pay for utilities, or purchase necessities for your children, a judge is unlikely to grant you custody or visitation at home right now. After all, it’s in children’s best interests to have access to food, clean clothes, running water and electricity, and a bed. If you cannot provide all of this, and the child’s other parent can, a judge will likely grant them custody.
Of course, having financial difficulties doesn’t keep you from being a good parent. As such, if you don’t currently have a safe home for your children to visit, the judge should allow you to have visitation somewhere else. This means that bankruptcy won’t revoke your right to spend time with your children, but in extreme cases, it could keep you from being granted custody until your situation changes. If you’re concerned about this, consult a lawyer today for advice on your bankruptcy case.
How Does Bankruptcy Affect Child Support?
As you prepare to file for bankruptcy, it’s important to know that not all debts can be discharged with this legal action, and child support is one of them. This means that filing for bankruptcy does not permit you to stop making child support or alimony payments, since these are considered priority debts that must be paid.
However, if your financial situation doesn’t improve after bankruptcy and you can’t keep up with your child support obligations, you can request a child support order modification. This gives you a chance to lower payments. Just note that you can’t use the bankruptcy case itself as a reason to reduce payments. You must show proof of a different financial hardship, such as job loss or reduced hours at work. A family law attorney at our firm can advise you if you want to modify child support.
How Can You Improve Your Chance of Getting Child Custody During Bankruptcy?
If you’re concerned about how bankruptcy will affect your family law case, you can take steps to work toward the best outcome possible. Your main goal should be to show the judge that you can provide your children with everything they need to be safe and comfortable, including a stable home, clean clothes, and food. You can start by gathering receipts and taking photos of everything you have to make your children safe and comfortable at your home.
Hiring an experienced lawyer is another way to improve your chances of getting custody or keeping visitation rights. When you call The Howze Law Firm LLC at 803-266-1812, you can discuss your case with caring, skilled lawyers who have helped clients through everything from bankruptcy to divorce. We understand how important it is to see your children regularly as you work on getting out of debt, so you can count on us to provide you with quality legal support throughout your case.