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Lake County foreclosure defense attorneysFor most people, it is not very hard to imagine a scenario in which they cannot afford to pay all of their bills. Maybe it starts with a missed auto loan payment or a monthly credit card payment, but all too quickly, a person is so far behind that it catching everything up might be impossible—especially catching everything up at the same time. In many cases like this, the person’s best option may be to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

If your mortgage is one of the obligations on which you have fallen behind, you probably realize that your lender may soon have the right to foreclose on your home. In fact, depending on the circumstances, you might have already received notice that foreclosure proceedings have begun. Once foreclosure proceedings begin, you might be inclined to simply stop paying your mortgage, but if you have filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy, doing so could cause you more problems than it solves—especially if you hope to keep your home.

Automatic Stay in Bankruptcy

When you file for protection under Chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, the court will automatically issue a stay on all debt collection activities—including efforts by your lender to collect your delinquent payments. The automatic stay also stops foreclosure proceedings. Your lender, however, can request permission from the court to continue the foreclosure. The court has the discretion to grant the lender’s request, but certain circumstances will make the court more likely to approve allowing the foreclosure to continue.

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Why Child Support Payments are Not Subject to the Automatic Stay

When you file for bankruptcy, the automatic stay goes into effect. This is a legal order that stops your creditors from continuing their efforts to collect the debt you owe them. It is your chance for a “breather,” a bit of relief from their collection attempts as you organize your bankruptcy case and begin the process of repaying and discharging your debt.

There are two notable exceptions to the automatic stay: child support and spousal support payments. When you file for bankruptcy, you must continue to make these payments.

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Which Debt Collections are Not Halted by the Automatic Stay?

When you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect. This is a legal order to prohibit your creditors from continuing their collection attempts while you focus on working through the bankruptcy process. Do not assume that the automatic stay means that you are no longer liable for your debts or that your creditors cannot resume their collection attempts. Certain debts are not affected by the automatic stay, and in some cases, creditors for debts that are affected can file for relief from the automatic stay.

The automatic stay is one of many new concepts and terms you will face with your bankruptcy case. Your lawyer can discuss each of these concepts in detail with you to help you understand what you are facing and how you can successfully navigate the bankruptcy process.

Collections of Child and Spousal Support Debt are Not Halted

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Many people who are struggling financially to pay their mortgage, vehicle payments, medical bills and/or credit card debt also end up getting very behind in their utility payments. Disconnect notices from the electric, water, gas and telephone companies fill the mailbox and even payment arrangements become impossible to keep.

Filing for bankruptcy protection is usually a last resort for people in financial crisis, but if shutoff of utilities is an imminent threat, filing for Chapter 7 or 13 is an option. As soon as your bankruptcy is filed, utility companies are prohibited from terminating your service. This is referred to as an automatic stay. It's the same legal protection that stops the bank from foreclosing or any other lawsuit or legal action because of debts you owe.

Once you file for bankruptcy, you have twenty days to show to the utility company that you will pay future bills. This is referred to legally as “adequate assurance.” If you don't, then the utility company can shut off your service, so it's important to act quickly. Forms of adequate assurance can be a deposit on your account or a co-signer. If the utility will not accept your adequate assurance, you can request the court issue an order that they accept.

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A new study from the Woodstock Institute shows that there are many homes across Illinois that have been in the foreclosure process for several years without resolution. In Cook County alone, there are up to 8,000 residential homes that have been in the foreclosure process for three years.

The study indicates that when owners feel like there's no way out, the properties end up abandoned. If you are worried about threats from the bank and an impending foreclosure, you should hire an Illinois bankruptcy attorney to talk you through how bankruptcy can give you relief.

Especially where the homes are vacant, lenders may abandon them, leaving neighborhoods with empty homes and seemingly no next step. In this situation, according to a Woodstock Institute Spencer Cowan, there's no one with a vested interest in the property any longer, so nobody wins.

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