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A wooden gavel resting on a pile of U.S. hundred-dollar bills spread out on a rustic blue wooden surface, symbolizing legal decisions related to alimony.

Can You Still Collect Alimony if Your Ex is Bankrupt in New Jersey?

During your divorce, the court ordered your ex to pay alimony. Unfortunately, since the court made that determination, your former spouse has filed for bankruptcy. For more information on whether your ex still has to pay you alimony after he or she has gone bankrupt, please continue reading, then contact an experienced Ocean County alimony attorney today.

Can your ex discharge his or her alimony obligation after he or she goes bankrupt in New Jersey?

In the vast majority of cases, simply filing for bankruptcy will not be sufficient to result in the termination of alimony payments in the Garden State. In New Jersey, debts defined in the bankruptcy code as “Domestic Support Obligations,” or DSOs, are automatically non-dischargeable in both a chapter 7 and a chapter 13. If your ex has an arrearage of either or both, he or she will have to pay it.

Nonetheless, a bankruptcy may enable your former spouse to ask for a modification.

How does New Jersey define a Domestic Support Obligation?

As mentioned above, the bankruptcy code defines a DSO as a debt, including interest, that accrues before, on or after the date a bankruptcy is filed, in the nature of alimony, maintenance or support. Your former spouse may owe this debt to you and/or your children.

The following entities can create a Domestic Support Obligation:

  • Separation agreement
  • Divorce decree
  • Property settlement agreement
  • Court order
  • A determination made by a “governmental unit”

The bankruptcy code gives quite a bit of priority to DSOs because bankruptcy trustees often pay this debt first.

Does being bankrupt help my ex not pay alimony in New Jersey?

If your former spouse is behind on alimony payments, bankruptcy may be able to help them. For example, a chapter 13 filing can get them into a plan to repay the arrearage over anywhere from 3 to 5 years. This may prevent you from vigorously pursuing what you are entitled to by state law. To ensure that your former spouse pays what the court has ordered him or her to pay, you should reach out to a skilled Ocean County divorce attorney today.

How can an Ocean County alimony attorney help you?

A seasoned legal representative will determine whether or not your former spouse has sought to cheat the system by deliberately wasting his or her funds and/or becoming willfully unemployed. Then, your attorney will act accordingly, calling upon the court to take action if necessary. The court ordered alimony and we will help defend your rights. Please give us a call today.

Contact our experienced Ocean County firm

If you need a divorce and family law attorney in Ocean County, New Jersey,  contact the Law Office of Sarina Gianna, LLC today to schedule a consultation.