Bankruptcy A Resource Guide for Child Support Professionals

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1 Bankruptcy A Resource Guide for Child Support Professionals

2 Tex Ritter, Regional Director Sierra Nevada Regional Department of Child Support Services Bankruptcy A Resource Guide for Child Support Professionals Jennifer Coultas Division Chief, Court Operations Los Angeles County Child Support Services

3 Bankruptcy Objectives Become familiar with Bankruptcy and how it affects Child Support Demonstrate understanding of the Bankruptcy Resource Guide by completing the Exercise

4 Bankruptcy Basics Bankruptcy is the legal action to: Eliminate debt Get a fresh start Child Support obligations should not be discharged or modified in Bankruptcy*.

5 Bankruptcy Types of bankruptcy most often seen in child support cases Chapter 7 Liquidation Chapter 9 Municipality Chapter 11 Business Reorganization Chapter 12 Family Farmer or Family Fisher Chapter 13 Individual Reorganization

6 May 2011 Steps in the bankruptcy process Debtor completes voluntary bankruptcy petition Voluntary Petition filed in federal bankruptcy court Court trustee appointed Timeframes established Debts discharged Individual gets a fresh start

7 May 2011 Voluntary Petition triggers Automatic Stay Creditors cannot: Take any action to recover a debt Enforce a debt or judgment against the debtor Repossess property or issue a Notice to Withhold Create a property lien File an Abstract of Support Judgment outside of California or record a judgment Contact the debtor concerning any payments

8 Bankruptcy Liability for Violating Automatic Stay Make informed decisions to avoid actual and punitive damages and an award of attorney s fees. No formal notice of the bankruptcy is required.

9 Some Child Support Actions are not subject to the Automatic Stay LCSA can: Bankruptcy Establish or modify orders for support in court proceeding or administrative processes Continue with Income Withholding Order for domestic support obligation*

10 Child Support in Bankruptcy Child support is allowed to: Establish paternity Establish a child support order Establish a medical support order Collect support that is not property of the estate Report Overdue Support to a Consumer Reporting Agency Suspend licenses* Intercept tax refunds* Take criminal action against the debtor

11 Bankruptcy What is Property of the Estate? Upon filing a Voluntary Petition, Property of the Estate includes: All debtor s assets and debts All potential earnings Lottery proceeds Tax refunds* All other sources of income during the bankruptcy Only limited exemptions to the Property of the Estate allowed

12 Bankruptcy Domestic Support Obligation (DSO) 11 U.S.C. Section 101 (14A) A domestic support obligation is a debt that accrues before, on or after bankruptcy filing, including interest that is owed: to a spouse, former spouse, child, or child s parent, legal guardian, or responsible relative, or governmental unit in the nature of alimony, maintenance or support including assistance provided by a governmental unit.

13 Proof of Claim Use a Proof of Claim for: Chapter 11, 12 or 13 case Chapter 7 case, if requested by the trustee Submit: Proof of Claim, Support calculation, and Copy of the judgment supporting the claim Child support obligations are non dischargeable, priority claims

14 Discharge What does it mean to have bankruptcy discharged? The debtor (obligor) is entitled to discharge (release/eliminate) certain kinds of debts Domestic Support Obligations are nondischargeable. DSO (child support) debt survives bankruptcy.

15 Dismissal What happens when bankruptcy is dismissed? It is as if the case never happened All enforcement activities may resume

16 Chapter 7 Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Liquidation Debtor (parent paying support) petitions court to liquidate debtor s assets and debts Court exempts some of debtor s assets from liquidation and discharges debts

17 No Asset Chapter 7 Chapter 7 Most common Debtor has no assets to be distributed to debtors No Proof of Claim needed Discharge completed in about 4 months Asset Chapter 7 Additional assets available for disbursement to creditors Assets are beyond those exempted by debtor LCSA may file a Proof of Claim

18 Chapter 7 Impact on Child Support Do: Continue to collect Domestic Support Obligation (child and spousal support) and arrears by IWO Do Not: Contact the debtor about the next payment Inquire about payment on arrears Release property liens or recorded Abstracts of Support Judgment If debtor requests a release of lien, refer debtor to their attorney Negotiate a SLMS, but may suspend a professional or driver s license Release a license just because a bankruptcy has been filed

19 Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Liquidation Notice to Withhold Income Not effected by filing of Voluntary Petition No need to modify the Notice to Withhold, but you can Credit reporting is allowed Debts are non dischargeable Reporting is not a violation of the stay

20 Chapter 9 Chapter 9 Bankruptcy: Municipality Municipalities, governmental entities, and utilities Liquidation (railroads) Reorganization (Orange County)

21 Chapter 9 Impact on Child Support LCSA unable to cash municipality s check first sign of a Chapter 9 Direct obligor to file Proof of Claim with the court Do not contact the municipality (debtor) concerning the next payment Do notnotice to Withhold once petition is filed

22 Chapter 11 Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Business Reorganization Businesses and individuals reorganize debts over $1 million Voluntary Petition lists assets and liabilities Plan of Reorganization required* Creditors paid in full or pro rata share over time (3 5 years)

23 Chapter 11 Impact on Child Support Employer files Bankruptcy LCSA unable to cash company check sign of a Chapter 11 Direct obligor to file Proof of Claim with the court Do not contact the business (debtor) concerning the next payment Same as a Chapter 13 filing

24 Do Not: Chapter 11 Impact on Child Support Parent Paying Support files Bankruptcy Contact the debtor about the next payment Inquire about payment on arrears Release property liens or recorded Abstracts of Support Judgment. If debtor requests a release of lien, refer the matter to your LCSA Attorney. Negotiate a SLMS, but may suspend a professional or driver s license* Release a license just because a bankruptcy has been filed*

25 Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Notice to Withhold is allowed* Credit reporting is allowed Debts are non dischargeable

26 Chapter 12 Chapter 12 Bankruptcy: Family Farmer Family Fisher A family farmer or family fisher with regular income Same as a Chapter 13 bankruptcy for child support actions

27 Chapter 13 Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Individual Reorganization Individual or married debtors with Regular income Unsecured debts less than $360,475 Secured debts less than $1,081,400 Voluntary Petition lists assets and liabilities Plan to reorganize debts Generally repayment plan lasts 3 5 years* Debtor pays trustee who pays creditors (10%)1

28 Chapter 13 Impact on Child Support LCSA does: Decide whether to file a Proof of Claim Or receive payment outside of Plan By IWO or combination of both* Debtor may: Contest Claim amounts Propose not paying child support debt CONTACT YOUR LCSA ATTORNEY

29 Chapter 13 Impact on Child Support Do Not: Contact the debtor about the next payment Inquire about payment on arrears Release property liens or recorded Abstracts of Support Judgment. If debtor requests a release of lien, refer to your LCSA attorney. Negotiate a SLMS, but may suspend a professional or driver s license* Release a license* or passport just because a bankruptcy has been filed

30 Chapter 13 Income Withholding Order Allowed for Domestic Support Obligations (current and arrears) (contact debtor s attorney) If debtor contests the Income to Withhold and refuses to pay Domestic Support Obligations (child support), Motion to Dismiss Bankruptcy may be filed or criminal action commenced.

31 Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Individual Reorganization Credit reporting is allowed Debts are non dischargeable

32 Exercise

33 Chapter Situation You can continue to collect child support. Y Y Y Y You can continue to collect arrears. Y A A A Release a license Discuss case options Once the Petition in Bankruptcy is filed, you can do a wage assignment. You must release a property lien that was filed prior to the debtor s filing for bankruptcy. Y A A A N N N N.

34 Chapter Situation Credit reporting is allowable. Y Y Y Y You can issue a Child Support Warning Notice Discuss. You can negotiate an SLMS stipulation or inquire about payment on arrears. You can contact the debtor to find out when the next payment will be made. If the debtor requests a lien be lifted, refer the debtor to your LCSA attorney. N N N N N N N N A A A A

35 Collect tax intercept. Situation Chapter Y Y Y Y You can continue action to establish paternity. You can use a Civil Contempt proceeding to enforce the payment of debt. Y Y Y Y N N N N You can modify child support after bankruptcy filed. Y Y Y Y

36 Tex Ritter Regional Director Sierra Nevada Regional Department of Child Support Services Jennifer Coultas, Los Angeles County Maria Carlomanga Brice, Lassen County Questions? Thank You!

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