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What is the automatic stay?

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2023 | blog, Personal Bankruptcy

Despite the United States Courts reporting bankruptcy filings were down by 6.3% in 2022, economic concerns indicate that will increase again. Financial hardships can lead many people to seek this legal protection.

However, anyone considering bankruptcy should make sure to completely understand the process prior to filing. One important aspect of the process to know about is the automatic stay.

The automatic stay defined

The automatic stay is a provision within bankruptcy law that comes into effect immediately upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition. It serves as a legal injunction that puts an immediate halt to most forms of debt collection and legal actions by creditors. This stay actively protects the debtor from a wide range of financial pressures.

Automatic stay benefits

One of the most notable benefits of the automatic stay is that it puts an end to harassing phone calls and letters from creditors. Once in place, the stay legally prohibits creditors from engaging in any communication aimed at collecting the debts. This respite from incessant creditor contact can provide a sense of relief and peace of mind to those struggling with debt.

Moreover, the automatic stay stops wage garnishments and prevents creditors from pursuing or continuing lawsuits, repossessions, foreclosures and evictions. It temporarily freezes these processes, giving debtors the opportunity to reorganize their financial affairs through the bankruptcy process.

Automatic stay exceptions

It is important to understand that the stay does not apply to every type of debt or legal action. Some obligations, such as child support or criminal restitution, remain unaffected by the stay. Additionally, creditors can request that the court lift the stay in certain circumstances, such as when there is evidence of bad faith or if a debtor has filed for bankruptcy multiple times within a short period.

The automatic stay remains in place throughout the bankruptcy proceedings, offering debtors a window of time to work with the court and creditors to develop a repayment plan or liquidate assets under the protection of the bankruptcy court’s oversight. This stay typically lasts until the bankruptcy case closes through dismissal or discharge.