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What is an adversary proceeding and how do I file a complaint?

What is an adversary proceeding?

An adversary proceeding is the bankruptcy court’s version of a civil action (a lawsuit). An adversary proceeding is opened by filing a complaint asking the court to rule on an issue related to a bankruptcy case. The adversary proceeding is given a new case number that is separate from the number of the associated bankruptcy case. Further filings in the adversary proceeding are filed under the adversary proceeding number.

Adversary proceedings are governed by Part VII of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (FRBP). FRBP 7001 lists types of proceedings that must be filed as adversary proceeding complaints, rather than as motions or notices in the bankruptcy case.  Click here to see the rule.

The following is a list of some, but not all, actions that must be brought by adversary proceeding:

• Proceeding to object to or revoke the debtor’s discharge under 11 U.S.C. §§ 727 or 1328, except for a motion objecting to discharge under §§ 727(a)(8), 727(a)(9), or 1328(f). See FRBP 4004(a) for filing an objection to discharge.

• Proceeding to determine the dischargeability of a particular debt under § 523.

• Proceeding to revoke  confirmation of a plan in chapters 11, 12, or 13 under §§ 1144, 1230, or 1330.

• Proceeding to subordinate a claim or interest (other than as part of a plan) under § 510.

How do I file a complaint?

An adversary proceeding complaint is filed with the clerk’s office. Unless the complaint is electronically filed, it must be filed with a completed Adversary Proceeding Coversheet on Local Bankruptcy Form 1040 (which is identical to Official Form 1040).

See LBF ADV for more information.

Seeking legal advice is recommended

It is highly recommended that legal advice be obtained from an attorney before filing an adversary proceeding complaint.

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