You may be facing a situation, like many people in New Jersey, where you just can't get by anymore and you have to file bankruptcy. But one of the problems is that one of your debts (most often something like a car loan) was co-signed by a friend or family member. What do you do? What can happen if you file bankruptcy? Well, that can depend on what type of bankruptcy you file.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

If you file a chapter 7, which seeks to wipe out your debt all at once and give you a fresh start, then your cosigner is still responsible for all of it, and the creditor can go after him/her to collect. That is why they got a co-signor in the first place, to have a backup plan!

The solution may well be to continue making voluntary payments on thee debt after the bankruptcy is over to keep them from going after the other person.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

If you file this type of bankruptcy and have a payment plan to creditors, the situation is different. Something called a "co-debtor stay" can come in to protect the co-signor, but only to the extent that your plan repays the debt.

So if your plan pays the creditor 100%, then the co-debtor cannot be touched. However, if you are paying less than 100%, or nothing, the creditor can go after the co-debtor for the unpaid portion.

So as you can see, you have to tread carefully in your bankruptcy if you wish to protect the co-signor. This means ongoing payment of the debt in a chapter 7 or careful drafting of your repayment plan in a chapter 13.

So What Do I Do?

Bankruptcy is complex, and has many issues like this that could be overlooked if you don't have a lawyer. Dealing with the fallout of problems with a cosigner left holding the debt is not something you want to have to face.

If you live in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem or Cumberland County, are considering filing bankruptcy, and are ready to take action, call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site for a free consultation in my Woodbury office to discuss your case.

If you have more questions about bankruptcy, then download my free book,Top Questions People Ask About Filing Bankruptcy in New Jersey.

Not sure if bankruptcy is right for you? Take the quiz to the right to find out more!

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Steven J. Richardson
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Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.