Kentucky Bankruptcy Law

Counsel with Care

Yet another reason to consider Chapter 13 over Chapter 7

In either chapter 13 or chapter 7 bankruptcy there is an automatic stay with broad protection that stops creditors from attempting to collect debts. This stay is found in 11 USC Sect. 362 of the bankruptcy code. There is an additional “stay” afforded debtors who file chapter 13 and it is found in 11 USC Sect. 1301.

Upon first glance at Section 1301 it appears to be a protection given to non-filing co-debtors such as mom or dad who co-signed on the car loan. However, the intent is actually to expand the protection given to debtors. In other words, if the provisions are violated, it is the debtor who would file the action against the creditor. The co-debtor can join in that action, but it does not give standing to the co-debtor to pursue the action unilaterally (or at least that is what some courts have decided). See In Re: Marlon Durone Stacker (Bankr. S.D. Ill., 2011). This explains why there is no provision for the awarding of attorney fees for a violation of Section 1301 whereas there is such an award under Section 362.

The idea is that during the protracted chapter 13, a creditor would take action against the co-debtor and in so doing, would coerce the debtor into paying more to that creditor than the plan allowed. Congress wanted to prevent such an end run around the automatic stay by crafting this more limited provision.

Section 1301 is also limited in that if the co-debtor received consideration (something of value) from co-signing on the loan, then then stay does not protect them to that extent. So, if a non-debtor business partner co-signed a loan and the consideration (value) came into the business to both his and the debtor’s benefit, then action against that co-debtor is not prevented. Or, perhaps a friend co-signed a loan for $1,000.00 and received $200.00 of it, then the creditor can pursue him or her for that $200.00, but no more than that. Another limitation is that if the chapter 13 plan only provides for a certain amount of the loan to be repaid, then the amount in excess of the plan is not protected. So, if the plan provides for $9,000.00 of a $10,000.00 debt to be repaid, then the creditor can still pursue the co-signor for the extra $1,000.00.

There are some other, non-enumerated limitations to Section 1301. For example, the creditor may still be able to report a delinquency on the co-debtor’s credit report. One could say that this constitutes a false report because the terms of the agreement have been altered by the chapter 13 plan. But, the plan only altered the relationship between the creditor and the debtor, not the creditor and co-debtor. However, such an action could constitute a violation of both Section 362 and Section 1301 if one can show that there was intentional action by the creditor likely to coerce the debtor into paying beyond the plan. See In re Singley, 233 B.R. 170 (Bankr. S.D. Ga., 1999). If you look at the Singley case, be aware that the court there said the intent of the creditor had to be shown to be one of coercing the collection of the debt, but other courts say the intent only has to be that the act of violation was intended to occur regardless of the result.

Despite the limitations of Section 1301, non-filing co-debtors being protected from lawsuits, garnishments and the like may make the extra work of a chapter 13 worthwhile.

June 16, 2011 - Posted by | Automatic Stay, Bankruptcy, Chapter 13, Plan, Planning | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Great information. Thank you for your service.

    Comment by David Chung | June 16, 2011 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: