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The Many Benefits Provided by the Automatic Stay

Being hounded and harassed by collecting agencies is an all too common experience for millions of Americans who have lapsed in paying creditors the money they owe. These debts may be due to car loan, mortgage, personal loans, student loan, credit card debt, medical bills, utility bills, and so forth. Failure to pay debts on time will result not only to being penalized for late payments; there are also the issues of loan interests and the amount of debts getting bigger until, due to continuous failure to make payments, the total amount of the debts would have reached an overwhelming figure, making debt settlement impossible.

It takes only about three months of continuous non-payment before creditors consider a loan as bad debt. It is during this time when creditors would refer a debtor’s account to collecting agencies which will do anything to scare debtors in order to make them pay. With an overwhelming debt amount and the harassing tactics of collecting agencies, many debtors end up selling whatever they can and/or ask family and friends for loans, not realizing that whatever amount they come up with will only be good for one payment or two, a meager chip off from the total amount of their debt . . . and what about future payments?

A person can free himself or herself from overwhelming debts and have a chance at starting a new financial life through Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Chapter 7 is just one of the many chapters in the Bankruptcy Code of the United States. It was approved by the U.S. Congress in 1978 for the purpose of helping individuals, families and businesses with huge debts find the best (affordable) way to pay what they owe and regain control of their financial lives. Besides offering the near-total liquidation of all their debts, Chapter 7 also offers lots of other benefits, such as the Automatic Stay, and freedom from what are considered as dischargeable debts. Automatic stay is the most immediate benefit of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy; it starts as soon as a petition for bankruptcy is filed. Automatic stay is an injunction that a court issues to stop creditors and the collecting agencies they have hired from collecting debts or enforcing liens. Besides the phone calls, emails, text messages, letters and other harassing tactics by collecting agencies, the automatic stay also: – Temporarily stops any pending foreclosure; – Stop a utility provider from disconnecting service for about 20 days (this may be extended if the debtor can assure payment of past due bills); – Stops wage garnishment. A debtor may also possibly get back his or her garnished wages after he or she files for bankruptcy; – Stops all medical debt collections an any lawsuit (due to medical debt) from being filed against the debtor; – Temporarily stops the IRS from making collections on certain tax debts; – Gives debtors the chance to stop their car from being repossessed; and, – Stops any credit card lawsuit from continuing so long as the bankruptcy is active.

Not all types of action to collect and court proceedings can be stopped by an automatic stay, however, due to their importance. The proceedings that are allowed to continue include divorce, a lawsuit seeking the establishment of paternity, certain tax proceedings and criminal proceedings; payments that need to be continued, on the other hand, include child support, alimony, payment to pension loan, payment to student loan (under certain circumstances).