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Automatic stay: What is it and how does it work?

“[T]he automatic stay may provide a powerful reason to file for bankruptcy.”

So says a national legal research organization in discussing this debt-relief tool. The above endorsement is both succinct and unequivocal. Indeed, the automatic stay can be a potent weapon in the arsenal of any challenged debtor in Florida or elsewhere who is squared off against creditors such as collection agencies, government actors or mortgage lenders. Following are some of the central reasons why.

For starters, the stay puts an automatic stop to any litigation that might be pending. The salutary effects of that are obvious, given that a consumer can stop foreclosure proceedings, postpone civil proceedings that can involve important family law matters and keep creditors such as utility providers from cutting off essential services.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing and the attendant automatic stay it yields also brings an additionally important benefit. As noted by the above-cited legal information provider, “Filing for bankruptcy stops garnishments dead in their tracks.”

It takes no more than a moment to fully appreciate how critically important that can be to a struggling debtor.

The automatic stay also shuts off the harassing -- often intimidating, sometimes illegal -- contacts many consumers receive from debt collectors. Those contacts often persist daily, from early in the morning through the late evening hours. Moreover, they are often targeted at third parties, such as employers and friends.

Although an automatic stay is not a permanent panacea for debt problems, it is a valuable tool exercised by many debtors through the bankruptcy process. A proven debt-relief attorney can fully explain its scope and utility and provide additional information and strong representation in any debt-related matter.

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