Bankruptcy and Alimony in California


Alimony, also known as spousal support, requires one spouse to provide financial support to their former spouse in the case of separation or divorce. Declaring bankruptcy in California relieves financial hardships. It allows you to settle debts, liquidate assets, or set up a plan to repay creditors. But what happens when a spouse ordered to pay alimony files bankruptcy?

This situation can raise questions about how this will impact their obligation to pay alimony in California. This article will explore how bankruptcy affects alimony payments in California and explain how enlisting the services of a family law and bankruptcy attorney can benefit your situation.

Alimony in California

Alimony payments are ordered during divorce proceedings to help the lower-earning spouse transition from marriage to singlehood. They are ordered based on need and are gender-neutral, meaning that women and men are both eligible to receive them.

Types of Alimony in California

There are five types of alimony in California. Let’s take a look at each.

  1. Temporary alimony is paid while you are separated and lasts until the divorce is finalized. It uses a percentage of the higher-earning spouse’s income and subtracts a percentage of the lower-earning spouse’s income to determine the amount. The percentages used vary by county, and the amount of temporary alimony may differ from the long-term amount agreed on. 
  2. Rehabilitative alimony is the most common type of alimony issued in California and is paid until the recipient spouse can become self-sufficient. The recipient spouse has a set timeframe to bring their single lifestyle in line with their married lifestyle.
  3. Permanent alimony has no duration and is usually paid until one of the spouses dies or the recipient party gets remarried. The amount can remain the same throughout the term of the payments, or either party may request a modification.
  4. Reimbursement alimony is commonly used in California for one spouse to pay for the other to go to college and earn a degree. This will result in an income increase for the recipient spouse because they will then have a marketable skill, so the need for additional support may be reduced or eliminated.
  5. Lump-sum alimony is a sort of alimony “buyout.” Instead of making regular payments, the paying spouse can agree to give up assets or take on additional liabilities instead of making alimony payments. The problem with lump-sum alimony is that if the recipient spouse gets remarried after the divorce, the payment has already been made, and the paying spouse cannot ask for a modification.

Bankruptcy and Alimony in California

Alimony obligations are considered priority debts and cannot be discharged during either type of bankruptcy. However, the type of bankruptcy filed determines how it affects alimony.

  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves selling assets to pay creditors. The debtor will still be required to fulfill their court-ordered alimony obligation.
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows the debtor to reorganize their finances and develop a repayment plan to repay creditors over three to five years. Alimony payments must be included in the repayment plan, and failure to make them can result in the dismissal of the bankruptcy case. 

Navigating Bankruptcy and Alimony in California

Understanding the legal procedures and obligations under California law regarding alimony and bankruptcy is essential. Both parties can benefit from seeking legal counsel to understand their rights and responsibilities.

Consulting with a family law attorney can help individuals understand their rights regarding alimony and how bankruptcy can affect their obligations. The attorney can also help negotiate alimony agreements and ensure that they comply with the law.

Consulting with a bankruptcy lawyer can help you understand how it can impact your alimony obligations if you seek bankruptcy. They can assess your financial situation, advise you on the best type of bankruptcy filing for your situation, and help develop a strategy to address alimony payments during the bankruptcy process.

Turn to Azemika & Azemika, Trusted Family Law Attorneys in Kern County

Couples facing separation, divorce, and financial hardships face complex legal challenges. Understanding how bankruptcy affects alimony in California is essential for both the paying and receiving spouses. A qualified family law attorney can help you stay informed of your rights and responsibilities, navigate these challenges, and seek relief from overwhelming financial burdens.

At Azemika & Azemika, our partners have handled family law cases in Kern County for over 30 years. Focusing solely on family law allows us to handle each case with detail and expertise. If you are paying or receiving alimony and facing bankruptcy, our experienced team can help. When choosing our team of family law attorneys, you will receive knowledgeable, compassionate, and determined service.

Contact us today for a consultation.