Can I File Bankruptcy if I Have Co-Signers?

Read Chapter 17 of Attorney Peter Francis Geraci’s “Complete Book on Bankruptcy” below or at

Yes. And you can either discharge your obligation to both the creditor and the co-signer, or pay the creditor to protect your co-signer.

Talk to your co-signer. Perhaps they already filed a bankruptcy with Geraci Law and you don’t have to worry! Perhaps they need to and you can come in with them. You may want to pay that loan to protect your co-signer. Or, your co-signer might say, “Go ahead and file Chapter 7 and I will pay this one off for you” or “I filed bankruptcy myself, so don’t worry, I already got rid of this debt.”

You can also file Chapter 13 and pay a co-signed debt to protect your co-signer. You can file Chapter 7 and still pay the co-signed debt to protect the co-signer. Or you can file either and let the co-signed decide what to do if the creditor goes after them on their guarantee.

Whenever a lender wants a co-signer, they don’t trust the person that wants the loan. Therefore, someone has to agree that if the person who is getting the money does not pay, that the co-signer will make the debt good, and take up the payments.

If you are the person who signed to pay if your friend or relative didn’t you may complain if you are called upon to pay the loan that your friend or relative got. In fact, it may push you over the financial edge.

Therefore, if you have a lot of bills, and now have a problem because of a co-signer, you will want to include that co-signed loan in your list of bills when you come in for your first interview.

If you co-signed, you probably did not want to pay the other person’s loan. In a Chapter 7, you will discharge your liability for the loan. In a Chapter 13, you can set up a special class for co-signer loans, and pay them or not pay them, as you wish.

If other people co-signed for you, you may want to protect them. In a Chapter 7, you will probably want to pay loans that other people co-signed for you on, so that you are protecting your co-signers. Just keep on paying those loans, despite your Chapter 7, if you want to protect your co-signers.

In a Chapter 13, if you want to protect your co-signers, you can set up a special class of creditors for co-signer loans, and propose to pay the co-signer loans ahead of other loans.

Example: Tim works at the Post Office and has 3 co-signers for his credit union loan. The credit union is taking $200 per paycheck out of his check, and Tim has a car payment of $329 per month, and a bunch of other bills, so he needs debt relief.

The Geraci Law Chapter 7 or 13 Bankruptcy Solution: Tim files a Chapter 13 to pay his car and co-signer loan 100%, and can pay his other creditors after the car and co-signer loan are paid. He can also just get rid of all his debt in a Chapter 7, but continue paying the car loan and credit union loan. He will “reaffirm” the car loan, but will not sign a reaffirmation on the credit union loan. He will pay the regular payment on the credit union loan, re-authorizing his payroll deduction.

Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 30,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!


If I am Married, Can I File Bankruptcy Alone?

Will my bankruptcy affect my spouse?

Below is an article written by Attorney Peter Francis Geraci, you can read more articles at

If I am married, can I file a bankruptcy without my husband or wife? 

There are a lot of different answers so don’t expect to call us and get the right answer without a virtual or in-person consultation (which is free) with an experienced Geraci Law attorney. You will have to provide some detailed info to get a reliable answer.

. Married people file jointly, or separately, or just one. You can file alone. Filing a “husband and wife” case saves you on fees and costs. But there are reasons NOT to file joint cases, and reasons you should file together.

Example #1:  “I have credit card debt I can’t pay and just got fired. My spouse makes $130,000 a year, but is not joint on my cards, but we have a joint checking account. I am on title to 2 properties with him but not on the mortgage. Can I file Chapter 7 and get a discharge

Answer: Probably not. Your household income is $130,000 even without you working. The Chapter 7 Trustee would object to discharge of your debt because the household income is sufficient to pay it. On top of it, you own ½ interest in real estate, and only a Chapter 13 debt repayment plan would enable you to discharge your debt and keep your property interest.

Result: When you are back to work, see us about a Chapter 13 debt repayment plan if your spouse and you can’t pay off your credit cards. 

Example #2: “I just got married and have a lot of debt from before my marriage. It’s a second marriage and we keep separate accounts and have no joint property.   My spouse makes $130,000 a year, and pays all the household expenses, since I only make $25,000 a year. Can I file Chapter 7?

Answer:  Yes. Since there are no joint debts, accounts, or property, you are not a member of a “household” that can pay the debt, unlike Example #1 above. Depending on where you live though there are different applications of the “household rule”. You may qualify for Chapter 7, and if not, for a low Chapter 13 payment.

What to do if you are worried about your debt?

A. Please don’t call and expect an opinion on the phone. Have the courtesy to yourself of getting a half hour of free consultation with an experienced Geraci Law attorney.

B. Before you call for an appointment, talk to your spouse. It’s not like you committed a crime, you just have some debt. Your spouse may want to pay it, or may want to pay for your bankruptcy. Bad idea to try to keep it a secret.

so, there are some considerations, it depends on the facts, and there are a lot of secrets:

If you want to file a joint case, both of you must attend your first consultation. You can’t send hubby in by himself. That way you both hear the same advice. . Then you won’t have to go back alone and answer your spouse’s questions. Sometimes we recommend that one spouse NOT file, or that one file Chapter 7, and the other file Chapter 13.

1.   If you want to file your own case separately, that is ok. But if you living in the same household, we do have to know the total household income, and if spouses are keeping separate income and expenses. But one can file without the other.

2.   Wisconsin is one of 8 community property states. You can’t get rid of community debt by filing alone. But if you file alone, your creditors can’t attach community property as long as your non-filing spouse does not file. The same with a residence in Illinois or Indiana held as tenants by the entirety. 

3.   Many people have debts that they had before the marriage. A spouse is not liable for the other spouse’s pre-marital debts.

4.   Domestic support obligations, attorney fees to the other spouse in most cases, and guardian ad litem fees, and property settlement obligations, are not dischargeable in Chapter 7. In Chapter 13, domestic support obligations must be paid, and you can pay arrears ahead of other creditors. Also, in Chapter 13, property settlement obligations that cannot be discharged in Chapter 7 may be discharged. So, you need an experienced attorney if you have marital debt issues.

5.   Your filing does not affect the other spouse’s obligation to pay debts they are liable on. In community property states, like Wisconsin, your bankruptcy leaves your spouse with any debt incurred during the marriage, unless the spouse also files. But then your creditors can reach the other spouse’s community property, although it might be exempt.

6.   If you ran up the bills during the marriage, even though your spouse did not sign for the debt, or even know about it, your creditors may be able to collect from your spouse. Many states have “family expense” laws that make one spouse responsible for the debts of another if the debts were incurred for family purposes. The theory is that each spouse owes a duty to immediate family members to support them. Food, clothing, rent, medical bills and household items can be the responsibility of the other spouse.

7.   Sometimes one spouse will send the other one in, because they don’t want to pay the other’s bills. Then, instead of sending money to bill collectors, you can send your money to your own family. It makes for a happier marriage.

8.   Sometimes you are involved in a “bust-out scheme”, where you and your spouse loaded up your cards on purpose, and now plan to get rid of the debt. That may raise objections by creditors and the U.S. Trustee, depending on the facts.

Therefore, while you may be able to file a case alone, you may have to take into consideration both your spouse’s income, even if you keep your income and expenses separately, and any liability your spouse may have for your debts. You can protect your spouse from this liability by a joint filing, or, you can pay the debts that your spouse is liable for in a Chapter 13. Then, while you make the Chapter 13 payment, no creditor can bother your spouse. The same theory applies to co-signed debts.

This is one area where an experienced Geraci Law attorney is worth their weight in gold!

Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 30,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!


President William McKinley – The Cosigner Who Filed

William McKinley was elected President in 1897.  Filing for bankruptcy in 1893, while he was governor of Ohio, didn’t stop him at all! He ran for president 4 years after filing, and won! And it William McKinleyshouldn’t stop you!

McKinley co-signed on a $130,000 loan for a friend to keep a business open. The friend’s business closed and McKinley was left with the debt. McKinley filed bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy Act of 1867. Back then,   bankruptcy gave you protection from garnishment while paid back creditors, much like Chapter 13 today. 

Voters did not care about McKinley’s financial problems. He was reelected governor and then elected twice as President of the United States. McKinley sought help for his financial problems.

Presidential HatHave you cosigned for a friend or family member?  Then they defaulted, and the creditor is coming after you? Were you left holding the bag? Co-signing debt makes you as responsible as the other person. If they can’t pay – you owe!

If you are a co-signer and your co-signer is still paying, but you need to file either Chapter 7 or 13, you don’t want your bankruptcy to affect their debt.  Ask Geraci Law how we can help.

Whether you are the co-signer who is primary on the debt, or the one who is secondary, Geraci Law knows how to handle either Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 debt repayment, and co-signed debt. Prez

Talking about financial problems is the first step to getting help. Geraci Law helps thousands of people just like you get financial relief from creditors. Maybe eliminating the debt could be your first step to the presidency!

If you are working full time, and have debt, just dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation or log on to  to make appointments online 24/7.


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