Can a debt to the county be included in bankruptcy? - Bankruptcy Law Questions and Answers- LawQA.com

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Can a debt to the county be included in bankruptcy?

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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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

Answer By Ryan Beach
The Law Offices of Ryan F. Beach, PLLC
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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

Answer By Dorothy G Bunce
A Fresh Start
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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

Answer By Evan Engler

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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
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Penalties can generally not be filed but every case is different.

Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 2/17/2015

Answer By Ronald K. Nims

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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


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Court fees should be dischargeable as they are not taxes.

Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 2/16/2015

Answer By John F Brennan
Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
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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

Answer By Mark Markus
The Law Office of Mark J. Markus
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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

Answer By D.J. Rausa

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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

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