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What is the “Automatic Stay”?

Produced by South Coastal Counties Legal Services
Created March 2016

An "automatic stay" is a court order that stops creditors from collecting money from you after you file for bankruptcy. From the time you file for bankruptcy to the day the judge decides your case, creditors cannot:

  • Evict you,
  • Take back or repossess your car, furniture and appliances,
  • Garnish or attach your income or tax refunds, or
  • Foreclose on your property.


The creditor can ask the court to take away or “lift the stay”. Then the creditor can take actions against you.

They can even ask to hold a foreclosure auction. You will get a letter that they have filed a “motion to lift the automatic stay.”

Filing without a lawyer

  • Bankruptcy is complicated. Filing without a lawyer is risky.
  • You can lose property and money. You can go to jail if you do not tell the truth.

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