Child support obligations can create enormous stress in one's life and lead to questionable financial decisions. It is certainly understandable that "life happens" financial situations change, and there may be a need to amend support obligations. While these are real concerns, many obligors (parents who pay support) have genuine problems meeting their obligations.
Such was the case with Dennis Rodman. A former power forward who played with the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers. He was recently ordered to pay $500,000 in back child support. According to an ESPN.com report, Rodman claimed that he unwittingly underpaid his support because he was not properly served with an updated order, which resulted in additional arrears.
$500,000 in back support (or even $25,000 for people with normal incomes) would be a substantial burden that would trigger thoughts of bankruptcy. It is important for people in these situations to understand that a bankruptcy filing will not extinguish court ordered child support obligations. A bankruptcy may buy some time to pay back arrears, or enable an obligor to create a plan, but the notion of cancelling support payments through bankruptcy should not be supported.
Essentially, child support payments are viewed as "priority" payments that are essentially immune from the court's ability to cancel. Other examples of priority payments include past due taxes, and civil damages stemming from intentional torts (i.e. drunk driving accidents).
If you (or a loved one) is having trouble meeting support obligations, a number of options are available. An experienced family law attorney can help.
Source: ESPN.com, Dennis Rodman found in contempt of court, must pay $500k in child support, December 7, 2012