When an individual is in a financial situation ripe to be resolved with a bankruptcy case, it’s likely they have a lot of debt they can’t repay and may even have one or more co-debtors. Debt accumulation over time usually shows a bread crumb trail of having to take on more debt to cover debts already owed. For instance, many debtors open new lines of credit to pay off an auto loan or a mortgage, and that tends to snowball into more credit card debt with interest rates quickly increasing the amount owed.
If your debt has become overwhelming, Behm Law Group, Ltd. can guide and protect you throughout the process of individual consumer bankruptcy in St. Peter, MN.
Bankruptcy can be a complex legal process, and it can be very different from case to case. The bankruptcy code has many specific rules that may or may not apply depending on individual financial circumstances. One example of this is the co-debtor role and the laws that apply to this in a bankruptcy case.
What Happens in Bankruptcy
There are two exactly opposite things that happen to a co-debtor depending on which chapter you file. In Chapter 7, you may have the debt discharged, but the co-debtor will still be responsible for repaying the full debt. However, in Chapter 13, you assume responsibility for the debt in a three- to five-year repayment plan, and thus your co-debtor may only be partially obligated on it. For instance, if you have a $5,000.00 Discover credit card debt and only $3,000.00 of it is paid through your chapter 13 plan, the co-debtor would be liable to pay the remaining $2,000.00.
Who Is a Co-debtor?
Any person that has legally agreed to pay the debt owed in the event that you can’t repay it is a co-debtor. Co-debtors include:
- Spouse: Even if your spouse is not filing for joint bankruptcy with you, they can be responsible for the debt if they signed the lending paperwork. Common examples of this are mortgages, credit cards, and car loans.
- Co-signer: If your relative, friend, or other individual co-signs a loan, rental, or other borrowed value with you, they become your co-debtor if you default on repaying that debt. This commonly happens if you don’t have sufficient credit or a lengthy borrowing history to take out a loan, rent a property, or open an account.
- Personal Guarantor: If you provided a personal guarantee to a lender on behalf of a small business or a start-up, you are considered a co-debtor for the loan that the business receives. If the business files for bankruptcy, you may still be liable for that debt.
- Community Property State Resident: If you and your spouse lived in a community property state in the eight years prior to filing for bankruptcy, your spouse is your co-debtor even if they don’t file a joint petition. Community property states include Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.