Divorce is an emotionally and financially difficult process, leaving many people on the verge of insolvency. It is important for both parties to a divorce to know that while some types of debts are forgiven upon the completion of bankruptcy, many family law obligations are not. Spousal and child support obligations pursuant to a family court order are not dischargeable debts. In fact, a recipient spouse under a support order receives a preferential payout, placing them ahead of many other types of creditors in line to receive the same assets.
Costs awards in family law proceedings are categorized the same as the subject matter that the trial or application addressed, and each are treated differently in bankruptcy. A costs award following a trial dealing with support claims will be treated as a non-dischargeable debt, for instance, while a costs award following a parenting trial would be considered an unsecured claim in bankruptcy. Many trials do not deal with a single discrete issue, which risks making the categorization of a costs award on bankruptcy unclear. For this reason, it is important to consider whether the parties are at risk of insolvency at the time a cost order is made, so that costs can be apportioned per issue addressed at trial.