The first thing that happens after a Stuart bankruptcy lawyer helps you declare bankruptcy is that you get an automatic stay. In this article, Florida bankruptcy lawyer Ryan Really will explain what this means for you and your creditors’ attempts to collect on your debt.
Right after you file for a voluntary bankruptcy proceeding, creditors are not allowed to collect or attempt to collect debts from you for a certain period of time. (Actions that are proscribed include continuation of any lawsuits, wage garnishments, or telephone calls to you demanding that you pay.) This prohibition is called an automatic stay: debtors are protected from the collection activities of creditors, and all administrative collection proceedings are also halted for the time being. The clerk sends an Order for Relief to all creditors, thereby effectuating the stay.
However, there are some activities that cannot be stayed. They include:
- Criminal proceedings;
- Domestic proceedings (which include domestic violence cases, divorce proceedings, paternity actions, visitation actions, and child support and alimony actions);
- The withholding or suspension of your driver’s license or other licenses;
- Reporting unpaid child support to a consumer reporting agency;
- Intercepting your tax refund;
- Landlord’s action against a tenant for regarding an expired nonresidential lease;
Once a creditor receives the Order for Relief, it is not allowed to contact you in any way, unless you filed for bankruptcy pro per (that is, you’re representing yourself, without the help of a Stuart bankruptcy lawyer). If a creditor willfully violates this, you are entitled to recover actual damages (which include costs and attorneys’ fees), and you may be entitled to recover punitive damages under certain circumstances.
If you’re filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, 11, or 13 and your prior bankruptcy case was dismissed within one year of filing this new petition, then the automatic stay will end 30 days after filing unless the court determines that your refiling of the bankruptcy petition was done in good faith. If you had two or more bankruptcy petitions within the year that were dismissed, then there is no automatic stay, and the court will enter a confirmation that there isn’t one. At the request of a party, the court has the discretion to impose an automatic stay.
If you are looking for help filing for bankruptcy in Florida, bankruptcy lawyer Ryan Really can help. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us at (239) 216-9468.