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Do Bankruptcy Automatic Stays Apply to Modifying Domestic Support?

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Background:

  • Husband in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
  • Wife applied in State Court for additional support due to college expenses for dependents.
  • Wife asked bankruptcy court permission to pursue additional support application in State Court.

Court Ruling:

  • Bankruptcy court encourages state court judges hearing domestic relations cases to make the determination on violations of stay.
  • Although unopposed, the wife’s request was denied.
  • Bankruptcy Court ruled state courts can decide domestic support cases without approval from Bankruptcy Court.
  • While state courts, cannot modify the bankruptcy stay, they can determine if the relief requested violates the stay in the context of modifying a child support order.

These stays affect so few of proceedings before them that the Bankruptcy Court encourages state judges to rule on these.