The Bankruptcy Bill making its way through Congress now will require that people who file bankruptcy pay back alimony and child support as a first priority, even before they pay the lawyer who files their bankruptcy. Viewed in isolation, this sounds like a good thing. Alimony and child support go from being the number seven priority to being the number one priority. We know that the largest single demographic group filing bankruptcy today are single women, so isn’t it a good thing to help them collect their child support from deadbeat husbands?
The problem is that by making alimony and child support number one, even ahead of attorneys’ fees for the lawyer filing the bankruptcy, Congress effectively makes it impossible for those single women who owe support (and many do) even to file bankruptcy. What lawyer would ever take a case knowing he or she wouldn’t get paid until a huge child support arrearage is satisfied?
So this provision that sounds so generous for those who need support is actually a back-door way to force many of them into perpetual indebtedness.