Bankruptcy Court Jurisdiction to Modify Alimony Payments of Chapter 13 Debtors

This article examines a bankruptcy court’s power to modify a chapter 13 debtor’s alimony payments. Part I discusses the bankruptcy court’s jurisdiction in chapter 13 cases and the connection between the chapter 13 case and alimony modification proceedings. It then outlines the domestic relations limitation and the resulting conflict between bankruptcy courts and state courts with respect to alimony modification. Part II analyzes various arguments for and against allowing bankruptcy courts to hear alimony modification requests in chapter 13 cases. This analysis reveals that any state interests are far outweighed by the substantial benefits to be gained from consolidating the alimony modification proceedings with the chapter 13 case in the bankruptcy court.