Stop Creditors Now: The Automatic Stay Gives You Relief From Your Creditors.
This is where the rubber meets the road. It’s why you filed bankruptcy in the first place. But what is it, how long does it last, what does it apply to? What happens if creditors ignore it?
First, let’s discuss what is perhaps the most powerful tool of the entire bankruptcy code: 11 U.S. Code § 362. The automatic stay is an injunction that goes into effect automatically upon filing bankruptcy. This is what stops creditors dead in their tracks and prohibits them from taking any type of action against a debtor. Think of it like a force field against debt collectors. It protects you against foreclosure, garnishment, lawsuits, auto repossessions, utility disconnection and prohibits creditors from contacting you by phone, mail or any other methods.
How Long Does It Last?
The answer depends on what type of Bankruptcy you file. If you file a Chapter 7 you will generally receive your discharge in about 90 days at which point the automatic stay will be lifted. Any debts not discharged in your bankruptcy like student loans or certain taxes will be able to resume collection activities. If you file a Chapter 13 you will receive your discharge anywhere between 36 to 60 months (three to five years).
What Are The Exceptions?
What’s a rule without exceptions? If you owe child support or alimony, filing a bankruptcy will not stop your obligation to pay this. Additionally, if you are behind on rent and an eviction proceeding has already begun, a bankruptcy can wipe out what you owe, but it will not protect you from eviction. Finally, if you have any type of criminal proceedings, those will be unaffected as well.
Creditors Keep Calling?
You filed Bankruptcy but your creditors keep calling? This is called a Stay Violation. The most common type of stay violation is inadvertent, or accidental. In my experience, the vast majority of creditors immediately stop contacting debtors once they file bankruptcy. Sometimes a creditor that is committing a stay violation has not received the bankruptcy notice, or perhaps they have not sent it to their legal department. Smaller creditors tend to process the bankruptcy notice quicker than larger corporations. If a creditor continues to contact a debtor then I will issue a Stay Violation letter. Usually one or two letters with a follow up phone call will do the trick.
First, if you are facing a time sensitive issue like foreclosure – the automatic stay can immediately put a stop to this. As long as your house has not actually sold, there is still hope. Second, if you are behind on your car payment and facing a repossession, filing bankruptcy will prevent them from coming to get it. It’s worth noting if your vehicle has been repossessed, but not sold, bankruptcy can help get it back. Finally, if you are getting garnished contact us immediately.
If you have questions about Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, please give us a call at 785-379-3600 for a FREE Consultation over the phone, in person or you can email us now.