The "automatic stay"
The cornerstone of bankruptcy is the "automatic stay". In most cases, upon the filing of a bankruptcy case, this "stay" order immediately goes into effect. It immediately stops and prohibits collection actions, harassing phone calls, lawsuits, and property seizures against the debtor. A creditor who willfully violates this stay order can be punished by contempt and the debtor may be awarded damages.
Discharge of debts
The primary goal of bankruptcy is the "discharge" or legal elimination of debt. Upon the conclusion of the bankruptcy case, most unsecured debts are discharged. Additionally, and balances resulting from property that the debtor no longer wants are also discharged.