In the legal context, a stay is a court order preventing further action until a future event occurs, or the order is lifted. A stay of execution prevent someone from having the death penalty carried out for a specified period of time. A stay may be granted top allow a party to provide evidence that would prevent the order from being carried out.
The filing of a bankruptcy case, under any chapter of the Bankruptcy Code, triggers an injunction against the continuance of any action by any creditor against the debtor or the debtor's property. An automatic stay in bankruptcy proceedings immediately stops any lawsuit filed against the debtor and virtually all actions against their property by a creditor, collection agency or government entity. The automatic stay may be a reason for persons to file bankruptcy when they are being evicted or foreclosed on, being found in contempt for failure to pay child support or losing such utility services, welfare or unemployment benefits, their driver's license or job, etc.