Filing for bankruptcy isn’t a decision that most people make lightly. In fact, it is a decision that is sometimes made out of desperation. There is one aspect of bankruptcy that some people find very helpful — the automatic stay. This is something that puts a stop to harassing phone calls and other communication from creditors.

The automatic stay can do a lot of things, but you should be aware of what it can’t do. This won’t stop child support payments or collection of back child support. It won’t stop IRS collection activity or certain aspects of criminal cases.

Some of the things the automatic stay can do you might not know. The automatic stay might help you to keep your utilities connected. Typically, the utility company will have to delay disconnection for at least 20 days if you file for bankruptcy because of the automatic stay.

If you are renting a home, the automatic stay might provide you with a little more time to pay your rent. This might not stop an eviction that is already in process, so if you are facing an eviction, you should explore your options to take care of that.

An automatic stay can stop wage garnishments from coming out of your check. Once the stay is lifted, the garnishments could resume. Similarly, the automatic stay would stop government agencies from being able to collect overpayments as long as those were present before you filed for bankruptcy.

You probably have questions about bankruptcy and how the automatic stay will affect your situation. The answer to these might depend on your situation, so be sure that you get accurate answers upon which to base your decision.

Source: FindLaw, “The Automatic Stay: Stopping Creditors with Bankruptcy,” accessed Dec. 16, 2016