Filing An Adversary

The following is general information about adversary proceedings.

A bankruptcy case is the proceeding under Chapter 7, 11, 12, or 13 of Title 11 of the United States Code that is commenced by the filing of a bankruptcy petition, concerning a person, partnership, or corporation that is the debtor.   An adversary proceeding is a lawsuit filed within the bankruptcy case. It is an action commenced by a plaintiff filing a complaint against one or more defendants.   An adversary proceeding resembles a typical civil case from state court.  The plaintiff is the person, partnership or corporation initiating the lawsuit. The defendant is the person, partnership or corporation being sued.

Certain types of disputes cannot be handled by motion in the bankruptcy case, but instead require the commencement of an adversary proceeding. Federal Bankruptcy Rule 7001 lists types of actions that require an adversary proceeding.   Adversary proceedings are governed, for the most part, by Part VII of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.  These rules incorporate most of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and are designed to make practice before the bankruptcy and district courts as similar as possible.

Please see the Bankruptcy Court Fee Schedule for the fee to file an adversary complaint.   No fee is due if the plaintiff is the debtor or a child support creditor who submits Form B281 as an attachment to the adversary complaint.

How to File an Adversary Proceeding

Note:  Electronic filing of all documents, including adversary complaints, answers, etc. is mandatory in this district for attorneys and trustees.  E-filing is not available for self-represented persons.

The procedure for filing an adversary proceeding is divided into two sections: the complaint and service of process. Please read the entirety of each section before filing an adversary complaint.

  1. The Complaint
  2. Service of Process
  3. File an Answer
  4. If No Answer is Filed

General Matters

Whenever you file a document with the Court, you must always:

  1. Send a copy to each of the parties, or their lawyers, who are involved in the case and indicate at the end of the document that you have done so. This lets the Court know that all parties have been served a copy of the same document you are filing.
  2. Provide the correct caption of the case on the document.
  3. Keep copies of all your documents. The Clerk's Office is required to collect a fee for providing copies of documents.