The Complaint

All cases are comprised of documents prepared and filed by litigants. The most common documents are the complaint, answer and motions. The first document that you must write as a plaintiff is called a Complaint. The function of the Complaint is to tell the Court and the defendant the reason for filing the lawsuit and what relief you desire. The Complaint consists of five main parts:

  1. The Caption, which identifies the Court, bankruptcy caption, and party information for the adversary.  See instructions and sample caption.
  2. The Name and Address of the plaintiff and the defendant. These are usually listed in the first and second paragraphs respectively. If there is more than one defendant, list each defendant's name and address in separate additional paragraphs.
  3. The Jurisdiction or reason your case is being filed in this Bankruptcy court, see 28 U.S.C. § 1334, and a statement as to whether the case is a "core" or "non-core" proceeding. See, 28 U.S.C. § 157(b).
  4. The Allegations or claims that you are making against the defendant. Place each allegation in a short, clearly-written paragraph. See Rule 7010 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and Rule 10(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
  5. The Relief you are seeking from the Court. This can be money or something you want the Judge to make the defendant do or stop doing. This information is usually written in the last paragraph of the complaint.

You must prepare your complaint yourself; the Clerk's Office cannot help you do this. Please be sure to number each paragraph except for the paragraph that asks the court for relief.  See, Rules 7008, 7009, and 7010 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and Rules 8, 9, and 10 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 

You must notify the Clerk of Court of any change of address. Your case may be dismissed if you cannot be contacted by mail.

Filing the Complaint

The original complaint is filed with the Clerk of Court. No copies are required. The Court's filing system automatically generates the Summons, i.e., the plaintiff is no longer required to submit a summons. When this summons is generated, it is returned to the plaintiff for service.

There is a statutory filing fee due at the time you file your complaint. See 28 U.S.C.§ 1930 notes and 28 U.S.C. § 1914.  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.

The Clerk cannot accept personal checks or credit cards from debtors. Money orders should be made payable to: "Clerk, U. S. Bankruptcy Court."