What is an Adversary Complaint in Bankruptcy?

17 Jun What is an Adversary Complaint in Bankruptcy?

When an issue arises in a bankruptcy case that can’t be resolved by negotiation or by a simple motion heard by the judge, it sometimes becomes necessary to file an adversary complaint.  This is like a civil action brought in the local state court and is used to have the court determine a factual and/or legal dispute.

Thus, if the debtor wishes to pursue a creditor for abusing the bankruptcy automatic stay or injunction, she can bring an adversary complaint.  If a creditor objects to whether a debt should be discharged, he can bring an adversary complaint.  Or, if the US trustee’s office objects to the debtor obtaining a discharge altogether, they can bring an adversary complaint.  These are just a few of the common examples: there are many other reasons for such an action.

The complaint starts with the filing of papers in the bankruptcy case.  The opposing party then has 30 days to file a response, and the court will proceed to set the matter for a status conference, allow for discovery, and eventually resolve the case by a trial on the merits.

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Douglas Jacobs is a California bankruptcy attorney and partner in the Chico law firm of Jacobs, Anderson, Potter & Chaplin. Since 1988, Mr. Jacobs has taught Constitutional law and Debtor-Creditor/Bankruptcy law at the Cal Northern School of Law. He has served as Dean of Students since 1994. He is a frequent lecturer on the subject of consumer bankruptcy law, and has spoken at both state and national levels.
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