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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
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    8

    Default What Happens if You Owe Debt in the U.S. But Live Abroad

    My question involves bankruptcy in the state of: Do not currently live in the U.S.

    I have 3 serious medical operations coming up, and someday I may be in trouble with credit card debts in the US. I'm currently up to date on all payments. I live totally from a Social Security check. I'm married with my wife's 3 kids living with us. I've lived in Colombia for 12 years.

    I have no assets except a house worth about $15,000. (this is the 3rd world.)

    I'm hoping to acquire all the needed monies when a dispute with my sisters is resolved, but this may not happen.

    I've contacted all kinds of attorneys in the States, and they say they only talk to people that want to file bk TODAY. I'm no where near ready to do a bk, and hopefull won't have to, but i have questions.

    Same thing with lawyers here, they just won't answer or talk to me.

    I last held a drivers license in California and am 66 years old and debt is about $30,000.

    There are retired American lawyers here that apply liens to expats for debts in the States. I realize from searches that a lot of this depends on the laws in Colombia.

    I want to be able to keep my low value home. Can anyone advise me.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    17,983

    Default Re: Living in Colombia with U.S. Credit Card Debts

    Advise you on what? Once the creditor gets a judgement in court, these are variously long lived. The exact particulars depend on where you took out the loans when you were in the states. However, nothing is going to attach your SS or your Colombian properties. Anything in the US, including any court judgements on your family, is fair game. What exactly are you asking?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Living in Colombia with U.S. Credit Card Debts

    Well, you answered my question, which was what's going to happen with my Colombian home if there's a judgement placed against me for credit card debt.

    However, nothing is going to attach your SS or your Colombian properties.

    OK, so you say that nothing is going to attach my Colombian home. The problem is I can't find any written documentation for this. People here say, (not lawyers), that all homes are automatically 'homesteaded' and no one can take your home away except for back property taxes.

    The other problem I have is that I've not lived in the States in more than a dozen years, so I have no State residency anywhere in the U.S. So where would I file? Lawyers won't talk to me because I live outside the USA. Maybe because I have $0.00 assets in the States.

    Sorry for rambling, I just wanted to put in every detail. You're doing good so far, flyingron.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    37,030

    Default Re: Living in Colombia with U.S. Credit Card Debts

    I’m missing the point of why you would even file bankruptcy. What is the purpose?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
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    8

    Default Re: Living in Colombia with U.S. Credit Card Debts

    Well, according to the above, flyingron says my home will not be attached. I didn't know that when I started the thread. I hope he's correct though.

    We do have all kinds of retired lawyers here placing liens on peoples property. This could be for anything like child support, or any kind of payment skippers. I don't know if it applies to credit card debt but they're here.

    I'm just asking some theoretical questions to find out IF I needed to file, where would I do it?

    If I have 0.0 assets in the States, and I plan on never returning then can I ignore any court proceedings against me?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    37,030

    Default Re: Living in Colombia with U.S. Credit Card Debts

    You need to check Columbian law regarding whether any creditor can even touch you or your assets is Columbia. If they can’t and you don’t intend on returning to the us and don’t intend on maintaining and assets here, it really wouldn’t matter what a Us creditor tried to do.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Living in Colombia with U.S. Credit Card Debts

    The rules for filing bankruptcy are residence or assets in the district where the bankruptcy will be filed. absent that, you will have to file bankruptcy in Columbia, if it is even possible.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    6,421

    Default Re: Living in Colombia with U.S. Credit Card Debts

    Quote Quoting brief
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    I have no assets except a house worth about $15,000. (this is the 3rd world.)
    Your Social Security cannot be attached for a private debt other than child support obligations, though once deposited in a bank account in Columbia it could be attached to the extent Columbian law would allow it. Similarly, the extent to which the house could be attached depends on Columbian law. How flyingron concluded that nothing would attach your Columbian home is unclear for, as far as I know, he is not knowledgeable of the details of Columbian law.

    The reality for the creditor is that it would have to sue you first (or take you to arbitration, if your credit card contracts require arbitration) and get a judgment against you before it could attach anything. Both U.S. and Columbian law require that. In order to sue you in the U.S. the state court would need to have personal jurisdiction over you. It is not clear that you have sufficient contacts with any state such that the courts of that state would have personal jurisdiction over you. If the creditor does succeed in suing you in the U.S. then Columbia does have a process for recogniizing U.S. court judgments. From what I understand of that process it would not be terribly difficult for the creditor to do it. If the creditor cannot sue you in the U.S. it will have to sue you in Columbia. The question is. as a practical matter, whether U.S. credit card issuer would want to bother going to Columbia to collect what you owe them, particularly given that your assets are limited and that some or all of the home might be exempt from attachment. Most probably wouldn't unless what is owed what quite high. No telling what your particular creditors would do.

    You'll end up getting notified of any lawsuit against you in Columbia or any effort to domesticate a foreign judgment in Columbia and one of those things must be done before your home could be taken. You might want to ask a Columbian lawyer if your home is protected from attachment. If the answer is yes then you have nothing to worry about. If the answer is no, then you simply wait to see what your creditors do and if they sue you then at that point you need to start planning what you should do to preserve your house.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Living in Colombia with U.S. Credit Card Debts

    WOW, that's some pretty good advice on this thread. That's just what I've been trying to find out. I realize that nothing is in cement, and I have to wait and see what happens, but this at least puts me in the right direction.

    You cannot believe what a hassel this is dealing between two different countries.

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