If you have been struggling with your finances — in particular with substantial debt — for some time, you may feel as if you have exhausted your options for getting back on track on your own. Though you may have made payments, cut spending and taken other routes, your efforts may not have been enough to make a significant dent in your outstanding balances. You may even now face actions from creditors, like garnishment or repossession.

Due to your circumstances, you may believe that now is the time to consider filing for bankruptcy. You know that it is a major step, but you also know that it has many benefits. In particular, you may have heard that an automatic stay can stop creditor actions.

Automatic stay

The automatic stay is a benefit of filing for bankruptcy that results in creditors having to stop certain actions against you. Commonly, this stay can halt repossession, foreclosure, wage garnishment and other actions. In the majority of cases, the automatic stay goes into effect as soon as you file your bankruptcy paperwork with the court.

While this stay can be immensely beneficial, it is important to remember that it does not stop creditor actions indefinitely. The automatic stay may not apply to certain creditor actions, and it only lasts for a certain period of time. Additionally, the stay could be delayed, or reason may exist for the stay not to apply to your case or for the court to lift the stay.

Multiple bankruptcies

If your financial situation is dire enough, you may even consider filing more than one bankruptcy petition within the same 12-month period. However, serial filings can have an effect on the automatic stay. For instance, if you file for bankruptcy twice within 12 months, the automatic stay will only stay in effect for 30 days unless you request an extension from the court. If you file for bankruptcy three times in 12 months, you will not receive an automatic stay for the third petition unless otherwise determined by the court.

To gain more information on the automatic stay and how it could apply to your situation, you may wish to consult with a Wisconsin attorney. A legal professional knowledgeable in bankruptcy law could also help you understand other aspects of your case and what actions you need to take to better your financial situation.