Automatic Stay

What does Automatic Stay mean?

An automatic stay is a legal injunction to stop various creditor actions. These actions may include beginning or continuing judicial proceedings against the debtor, stopping lawsuits and actions to obtain a debtor's property, stopping most garnishments and liens, stopping foreclosures and repossessions and eliminating all other collection activity during and after the bankruptcy proceeding.

The automatic stay can be legally challenged by a creditor under certain circumstances. A court may give the creditor relief from the automatic stay if the creditor can show that the stay does not give the creditor adequate protection, by showing of cause from secured creditors, or if the debtor has violated bankruptcy law through the presumption of abuse or fraud.

Creditors who do not stop collection activities after an automatic stay is imposed can be sanctioned for their violation. To sanction the creditor the court will decide if the creditor knew the automatic stay was in order but willfully violated it, or if the creditor knew the automatic stay was in order but either ignored the court's order or failed to correct their actions. Debtors who are harassed by creditors during the bankruptcy process should notify the bankruptcy court or their bankruptcy lawyer to find out what options they can use to stop the harassment.

Consider also, not all debts will be stopped by the automatic stay. There are some debts which are not discharged by bankruptcy (such as some tax debts, child support and spousal support) and may continue to be collected even if the debtor has filed bankruptcy.

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