The Automatic Stay
The automatic stay is a federal court order which is imposed the moment a bankruptcy case is filed. It immediately freezes any effort by any creditor to collect any debt from the debtor. It stops foreclosures, garnishments, lawsuits, etc. If a finance company repossesses a debtor’s car before the debtor files for bankruptcy protection, the debtor cannot get the car back, but if the debtor files the bankruptcy before the finance company can repossess his car, then the automatic stay prevents repossession.