October 17, 2019

Chapter 7 Trustees Notify Custodial Parents When Child Support is Owed by Debtor

bankruptcy_petitionIn my law practice I represent both Social Security disability claimants as well as Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy clients.  Not surprisingly, many of my Social Security disability clients end up as bankruptcy clients.  I also represent quite a few single moms in bankruptcy.

I frequently get questions from custodial parents (usually moms) who want to know if there is any way to find out if the non-custodial parent has applied for or is receiving Social Security disability.  The answer to this question is “not directly from Social Security” as privacy laws prevent Social Security employees from revealing this information.

Although SSA will not reveal any information about disability benefits to a third party, that information is a matter of public record if the Social Security recipient files for bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy petitions are publicly accessible documents and can be reviewed by anyone.

Further, under the 2005 changes to the bankruptcy laws, any Chapter 7 debtor who is currently paying child support must reveal that information to his Chapter 7 trustee.  The trustee then sends out a form letter to both the custodial parent and any child support enforcement agency.

Child support debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy.  However, a bankruptcy petition may serve as a source of information about assets, other sources of income.   You can access bankruptcy petitions and associated paperwork in person by visiting the office of the Clerk of Bankruptcy Court where the debtor filed, or you can access this information electronically using a system called PACER.