Like other debtors across the country, hard-challenged individuals and families residing in Orange County and elsewhere in Southern California who seek the lawful protections afforded by bankruptcy often invoke those safeguards because they are besieged by multiple creditors.

It is not uncommon, for example, for a debtor to feel simultaneous pressure from myriad collection agencies demanding repayment for medical services, credit card purchases, outstanding utility bills, mortgage payments that are in arrears and related obligations.

Such cumulative exactions can of course turn onerous in a hurry, becoming so egregiously threatening that strongly purposeful action is required to respond to them.

In millions of instances across the country, debtors facing insuperable financial challenges have understandably turned for relief to the long-tenured protections provided by bankruptcy law (bankruptcy is a legal right recognized in the United States Constitution).

Bankruptcy is seldom a rashly considered move for beleaguered debtors. Rather, and with the studied input of a proven debt-relief attorney, the strategy is a well-considered response to crushingly high debt levels.

A central component in bankruptcy’s protective armor is what one online overview of the bankruptcy process terms a “miraculous little thing.”

Namely, that is the so-called “automatic stay” that is issued as a court order to creditors as soon as bankruptcy is filed. The stay effectively keeps creditors at bay until it is lifted.

An automatic stay can stop a lawsuit in its tracks. It can also bar harassing contacts from creditors, stop foreclosure proceedings and, importantly, end creditors’ non-stop efforts to extract payments.

Although there is no question that an automatic stay is a welcome and powerful tool that can be employed in a debtor’s favor once bankruptcy has been filed, it bears noting that a stay does not provide absolute protection against every collection attempt. Some government creditors (the IRS or a state child support agency, for instance), have plenary powers that can override a stay’s protections.

A proven bankruptcy attorney can fully explain the parameters of an automatic stay and how it works, as well as provide diligent representation to any client seeking to invoke bankruptcy’s important — and multiple — protections.