The motivation to declare bankruptcy is as varied as the people burdened by debt. Most people have a keen aversion to turning their backs on their financial obligations, but when circumstances warrant ,a chapter 7 bankruptcy filing can be a smart move to make. Not only can you have a great deal of your debt simply disappear, but with your court filing you can put an immediate stop to collection attempts, foreclosures, utility cut-offs, and more. If your financial circumstances have led you to consider filing for bankruptcy, read on to learn more about what an automatic stay can and cannot accomplish.

The Automatic Stay Can Assist You

1. Stop or delay foreclosure activity on your home. Once you file for bankruptcy, your obligation to pay any non secure debt, like credit cards, will end. With the extra money you save from not having to pay those high minimum payments to the credit card companies, you may be able to get caught up on your mortgage payments and avoid foreclosure. At the very least, the temporary reprieve will buy you some time to find other living arrangements.

2. Certain wage garnishment activity will end. With the major exception of wage garnishments related to child support payments, you can now take home a full paycheck. The extra money available could be used to help catch up on other financial obligations, like keeping a roof over your head. It should be noted that the debt that triggered the garnishment in the first place does not automatically disappear, just the garnishment activity associated with it.

3. You can get a 20 day reprieve from getting your gas, telephone, water and electricity disconnected if you are behind on payments.

4. For renters, you can delay an eviction if your timing is right. If your landlord has not already filed eviction proceedings with the court, you may be able to stay in your home for a little longer, and perhaps get caught up on your back rent.

The Automatic Stay Cannot Assist You

1. Child support and spousal support (alimony) debt are not very likely to be discharged (forgiven) with a bankruptcy filing, and the automatic stay doesn't apply to collection and garnishment activity relating to those debts.

2. Taxes owed to Uncle Sam must be paid; there is no relief with the automatic stay. The IRS offers an installment plan for those who owe taxes, and you must continue to make payments as previously agreed, if you have an agreement in place. You may be able to avoid liens being placed on your property by the IRS, however.

3. All court-related fees and penalties must be paid as ordered.

The value of the automatic stay is obvious, even though it cannot help you in every situation. Contact a bankruptcy lawyer or visit for more information about automatic stays and bankruptcy.