If you are drowning in debt, you are likely looking for a lifeline – something, anything, that will make the collection agents stop harassing you and give you a minute to think…and plan.
While filing for bankruptcy is not the best option for everyone, it does offer an immediate lifeline, off sorts. The Automatic Stay is a protection carefully outlined in bankruptcy law. It requires all collection activity to stop at once. Creditors and their agents and lawyers may not continue to contact you – by phone, email, in person – in any way – to collect debts or enforce liens. In fact, in many cases, lenders must put all foreclosure proceedings on hold until the bankruptcy court lifts the stay. They are also barred from initiating any foreclosure action.
The bankruptcy process is anything but simple and quick. An experienced, knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer can advise you about timeframes with regard to the complexity of your personal application for bankruptcy protection. That being said, the Automatic Stay goes into effect as soon as you file for bankruptcy. You file a bankruptcy petition with your local bankruptcy court, whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, and creditors are immediately notified that they must cease and desist collection efforts.
Keep in mind that creditors do have the right to petition to have the Automatic Stay lifted as it applies to their debt. However, without court intervention they are not allowed to pursue debt collection. This means the harassing phone calls will stop. You will have a moment to breathe and decide how to proceed.
There is a critical exception to the Automatic Stay statute that affects anyone who has repeatedly filed for bankruptcy.
If you have previously filed for bankruptcy and your case was dismissed in the past 12 months, you will only have the benefits of the Automatic Stay for 30 days after your next bankruptcy filing.
If you have had two bankruptcies dismissed in the past year, you will not have the benefit of the Automatic Stay at all.
If, however, it’s been more than a year since your prior bankruptcy was dismissed or closed, the “repeat filers” exemption doesn’t apply. You will still enjoy the benefits of the Automatic Stay.
Bankruptcy is not always the best solution for dealing with personal financial crisis. There are other debt management techniques, such as debt settlement or debt negotiation, either of which may be an alternative worth checking out.
Whatever you do, get some sound, legal advice from a Cherry Hill NJ bankruptcy and debt negotiation lawyer who will explain your rights and help you make smart decisions about handling your debt. Contact Joel R. Spivack, Esq. today for a free and 100 percent confidential consultation about your personal financial issues.