• Call 423-929-7673
  • What Is an Automatic Stay in Bankruptcy?

    The Automatic Stay is one of the cornerstones of the United States bankruptcy code and law. As soon as the debtor files, it goes into effect, blocking almost all collection actions until approved by a judge. This includes creditors and bill collectors. They cannot foreclose, repossess, garnish wages, levy bank accounts, or take other collection measures against the debtor’s property or vehicle, including from government agencies like the IRS.

    What Is An Automatic Stay In Bankruptcy

    What Is An Automatic Stay?

    The Stay provides equal treatment of creditors. Creditors cannot prioritize one debt over others by foreclosing on your home or stopping wage garnishments while other debts remain unpaid.

    In addition, the Stay prevents disconnection of basic utilities like water, gas, or electricity in cases of arrears on bills. It can help stall an eviction proceeding as well.

    However, it won’t prevent landlords with unlawful possession judgments from reconnecting utilities or evicting tenants who fall behind on bills. Despite legal barriers, landlords can still take action against tenants who owe money to debt collectors or are behind on bill payments.


    There are some exceptions to the automatic stay, such as when a creditor forecloses on your house. In such situations, you can file a motion for relief from the Stay with the bankruptcy court; if granted, this will lift it and allow the foreclosure to proceed to bankruptcy.

    How Do You Lift A Bankruptcy Stay?

    What Can Automatic Stay Prevent?

    An automatic stay can be an invaluable ally when facing debt issues. It ensures all creditors play fair, preventing one creditor from trying to collect at the expense of others. Unfortunately, its scope may be limited, allowing some creditors to still try collecting.


    If you filed for a bankruptcy petition shortly before being evicted by your landlord, they could ask the bankruptcy court to lift the Stay so they could proceed with the eviction. This motion to lift the Stay may be granted if creditors can show that your home is at stake; similarly, creditors attempting to repossess collateral such as cars that you owe may request that their seizure and sale necessitate lifting the Stay.

    The Automatic Stay In Bankruptcy

    It Does Not Prevent Lawsuits

    The Stay does not prevent lawsuits relating to debts that cannot be discharged through bankruptcy, such as alimony and child support claims. Nor will it stop your state from collecting overpaid public benefits such as Medicare or unemployment.

    Generally speaking, creditors who know about your filing should wait for any stay restrictions to be lifted before taking any actions; otherwise, they risk being sanctioned by the court for violating them willfully.

    Bankruptcy Automatic Stay Explained

    What is the Automatic Stay For?

    Once a debtor fails to pay off the debts and files for bankruptcy, creditors generally must stop all collection efforts (with certain notable exceptions). This includes foreclosing on property, repossessing vehicles or collateral from debtors’ vehicles, evicting tenants, or garnishing wages, though note that in certain circumstances, a judge can lift this protection.

    As part of its protections, bankruptcy stays are intended to delay disconnection of utility services for at least 20 days after filing bankruptcy and prevent landlords from proceeding with a bankruptcy case (though in some cases, such as when tenants use controlled substances that endanger others or violate lease agreements) and stop landlords from proceeding with any eviction action against tenants (though this Stay can be lifted if a landlord can prove this through evidence).

    Creditors who fail to abide by the automatic Stay can face sanctions from the court. For example, banks that place setoff claims against debtor accounts without permission may be ordered to pay damages. While courts typically punish willful violators more severely, accidental or technical violations in good faith tend not to receive equal punishment.

    What Does Automatic Stay Require?

    The automatic Stay is a powerful tool that balances out all creditors. It can stop debt collectors from seeking debt collection while permitting the debtor to focus on creating a plan of reorganization without interference from creditors. Unfortunately, its scope is subject to both judicial and statutory exceptions.

    What is Required for the Debtor’s Business?

    An individual or entity seeking relief from the automatic Stay can do so by filing a motion with the court and providing reasons for doing so, such as their belief that property values will decline during bankruptcy proceedings or not being essential to the debtor’s business operations. Creditors might also want relief so they can pursue foreclosure action or recover funds under lease agreements.

    If a creditor suspects that an automatic stay will not apply, they are obliged to inform their debtor as soon as possible and allow him or her to take legal action against any who violate it. If necessary, debtors can sue these creditors for violating their stay agreement.

    What Is Automatic Stay In Bankruptcy?

    Other key exceptions to the Stay include criminal proceedings with both financial and legal components, child support payments, and income withholding for pension loan payments. A creditor may obtain a divorce judgment that grants it rights to place a lien against a debtor’s home even after multiple bankruptcy filings; such judgments might only postpone foreclosure for several months at best.

    If you need assistance with personal or business bankruptcy and filing in Tennessee, reach out to The Pope Firm and Charles Pope, Attorney At Law.

    Client Testimonials



    The automatic Stay is a vital mechanism in bankruptcy law designed to provide immediate relief and protection to debtors from creditors’ collection actions. Overall, the automatic Stay plays a crucial role in maintaining order and fairness in bankruptcy proceedings, enabling debtors to navigate their financial challenges with a measure of legal protection.

    Buried in Debt? Contact The Pope Firm Now!

    Are you overwhelmed by debt and considering bankruptcy? The Pope Firm is here to help you regain control of your financial future. We offer comprehensive bankruptcy solutions tailored to your needs, including Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy services. Whether you’re looking to declare bankruptcy in Tennessee or determine if you qualify, our team will guide you every step of the way.

    Don’t let financial stress control your life. Contact The Pope Firm today for a free consultation and take the first step towards a brighter, debt-free future. Let us help you navigate the complexities of bankruptcy with confidence and ease.