Most likely, you can claim bankruptcy on these debts. However, you must consider whether it is worth filing bankruptcy for your debts. You may not even owe the $15,000 if your father simply added you as an additional user but your credit was not used to obtain the card. As such, you may only be an additional user but not a debtor. Thus, you are left with the $4,000 in credit card debt which most attorneys would agree is not worth filing bankruptcy for.
Regarding any student loans in the future, it depends on the type of loan. Bankruptcy normally doesn't affect your ability to get new federal loans and grants. However, PLUS loans are an exception. The government will look at prior bankruptcies in considering your creditworthiness for a PLUS loan. Also, bankruptcy will affect your ability to get a private student loan and will also affect the cost of that loan. This is because the terms of a private student loan are based on your credit score, which is decreased by a bankruptcy.
That being said, you should definitely consider alternative options before filing for bankruptcy, such as negotiating with your creditors. Please consult with an attorney licensed in your state or possibly a non-profit legal services organization to learn more about alternatives to bankruptcy.
DISCLAIMER The answer given above serves for educational purposes only and is meant to provide general information for a basic understanding of the applicable law. Take notice that the answer above does not create an attorney-client relationship as this website is not intended to provide anyone with case-specific legal advice. Further take notice that any information on this site should not be used as a substitute for case-specific legal advice. Readers should also be aware that laws and their applications frequently change. As such, any information provided on this site is general in nature and may not apply to specific factual and legal situations. Contact a professional, competent attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction to receive case-specific legal advice before making any important decisions regarding your legal issue.
Deciding whether to file bankruptcy is sometimes a cost benefit analysis. In your case the only benefit to you assuming you care about the fact that your father will remain liable for the $15,000 that he put you on a as a second card holder would be $4,000.
With a bankruptcy case averaging between $1,899 (Legal Zoom rate) and $2,500 (average rate) bankruptcy does not make economic sense for you.
Yes, you can find some cheapo attorney or paralegal handle your case for less, but no experienced bankruptcy attorney would recommend bankruptcy for only $4,000 of debt. Why, because you can only file once every 8 years. Should something unforeseen happen to you in the next few years and you become 10 or 20 thousand dollars in debt, you will have not be able to file again until the 8 year period is up. Yes, you can file Chapter 13 in 4 years after a Chapter 7 case but Chapter 13 requires a minimum payment to creditors over a 3 to 5 year period which would most probably not be cost effective either.