Can a debt to the county be included in bankruptcy? 14 Answers as of February 17, 2015

I have a debt to the county for my child's juvenile court fees. The judge determined the bill is to be paid 50/50 by my ex-husband and myself, but our daughter lives with me so entire bill is in my name alone and we (my ex-husband and I) are supposed to work out payments among ourselves. However, since our divorce 8 years ago he has failed to pay a penny of his court ordered child support so getting him to help with this bill has been impossible and I can't afford to pay it alone. I'm going to file for Chapter 7 within the next couple of weeks, can a debt to the county be included in the bankruptcy?

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Richard B. Jacobson & Associates, LLC | Richard B. Jacobson
In all likelihood neither his obligation note yours can be discharged in a bankruptcy. Consult n experienced bankruptcy lawyer.
Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
Replied: 2/17/2015
The Law Offices of Ryan F. Beach, PLLC
The Law Offices of Ryan F. Beach, PLLC | Ryan Beach
It is hard to say for sure whether the debt can be discharged without more details regarding the debt. If it is just court fees, then the debt will most likely be discharged. However, there is an exception to discharge for debt that is, a fine, penalty, or forfeiture payable to and for the benefit of a governmental unit, and is not compensation for actual pecuniary loss. 11 USC 523(a)(7). If the debt owed to the County fits within this exception, then the debt can be excepted from discharge. I highly recommend consulting with an experienced bankruptcy so that the debt can be reviewed and you can be informed of what to expect regarding its dischargeability. No matter what, the debt must be listed in your schedules. When you sign your petition and other related bankruptcy documents, you are swearing that they are complete and accurate. All creditors or anybody you owe money to, whether they are dischargeable debts or not, must be listed and provided notice of the bankruptcy filing.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 2/17/2015
A Fresh Start
A Fresh Start | Dorothy G Bunce
You not only can include this debt in your bankruptcy, you MUST include this debt. I suspect you want to know whether or not this debt will be discharged or not, and absent the county filing an adversary action against you for a court finding that the debt isn't eligible to be discharged (which I think is unlikely), I suspect the county will not attempt to collect from you after your bankruptcy is concluded.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 2/17/2015
Harris & Engler | Evan Engler
That's actually a pretty complicated question. This is known as the doctrine of extraterritoriality and it's an evolving jurisprudence in some respects in the bankruptcy world. Basically, it depends on the country and depends on the type of debt. Who says a foreign country has to formally recognize a judgment entered in a court of the United States? Unless the country is a member of UNCITRAL, the United National Commission on International Trade Law (the body that issues orders for uniform bankruptcy laws across the world). Additionally, you may have to file a different chapter of bankruptcy than you would ordinarily file if the target country that the debt is owed to, if the target country is a member of UNCITRAL and interprets bankruptcy laws favorably to you, then maybe it'd be worth it. Most likely if we're talking about juvenile court fees it will be a lot cheaper for you to just pay them rather than file a Chapter 15 and pay a lawyer to jump through all these extra hoops for you.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 2/17/2015
Mauritz Van Niekerk, Attorneys at Law
Mauritz Van Niekerk, Attorneys at Law | Christiaan van Niekerk
Penalties can generally not be filed but every case is different.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 2/17/2015
    Ronald K. Nims LLC | Ronald K. Nims
    He's, debts to the government are subject to discharge just like other debts (except some taxes and criminal fines). What you really need to do is sling your kids' deadbeat dad's ass in jail for failing to pay his child support. Nothing focuses a dirtbag on his obligations to his kids more than being locked up and missing a few drinking nights.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 2/17/2015
    EDWARD P RUSSELL | EDWARD P RUSSELL
    Court fees should be dischargeable as they are not taxes.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 2/16/2015
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Very unlikely, you would be better served by hiring a lawyer to collect your support and the ordered fines or costs.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/16/2015
    The Law Office of Mark J. Markus
    The Law Office of Mark J. Markus | Mark Markus
    You must include the debt if you file bankruptcy. If you're asking whether the debt is dischargeable in a bankruptcy case, the answer is "possibly", unless it is deemed to be a fine, penalty, or restitution. I would need more details on exactly what the fees are for.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/16/2015
    D.J. Rausa, Attorney at Law | D.J. Rausa
    Court fees are not dischargeable in a bankruptcy. I would suggest you go to the county and request assistance.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/16/2015
    Garner Law Office
    Garner Law Office | Daniel Garner
    You are required to report all your debts in a bankruptcy whether they can be discharged or not. That is because you must notify all your creditors of your bankruptcy, so they do not inadvertently violate the automatic stay. The debt to the county most likely is not dischargeable, but at least the county cannot initiate collection activity against you while you're in bankruptcy. Hopefully the bankruptcy filing will give you some breathing room to set up a payment plan with the county. You should also talk to a family law attorney about getting the support your ex-husband owes you. Whatever you can collect is exempt in a bankruptcy, although you are required to estimate the amount owed in your list of assets in the bankruptcy paperwork. Best of luck!
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 2/16/2015
    Thomas Vogele & Associates, APC | Thomas A. Vogele
    Obligations to governmental agencies are generally not dischargeable through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. You should discuss it in more detail with your bankruptcy attorney and have him/her carefully review the order to see if there is an exception you might fall under. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/16/2015
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    You have to list "all" of your debts. If this is not a criminal sanction against you, it should be discharged.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/16/2015
    John W. Lee, PC
    John W. Lee, PC | Kim A. Lewis
    If this debt is in the nature of a fine then it will not be discharged in your bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 2/16/2015
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