- Online Filing
- Accessing Court Records
- Administrative Procedures Regarding Electronic Case Filing
- Applications for Access to CM/ECF
- Case Numbering
- CM/ECF Password Reset Request
- CM/ECF Version 5
- Documents Filed Under Seal
- ECF Training
- Electronic Filing (CM/ECF LIVE)
- File an Online Proof of Claim
- Pro Hac Vice
- Proposed Orders Guidelines
- Request ECF Training
- Training Database
- Universal Login
- View Case Files (PACER Login)
- More Options...
- Filing Requirements
- Court Resources
- Accessing Court Records
- Board of Advisors
- Case Numbering
- City/County Listings
- CourtCall Procedures Effective January 2013
- District Map
- ECF Central
- External Resources
- Filing Fees
- Glossary of Legal Terms
- Judgment Book
- Local Rules
- Mortgage Modification Mediation
- N. D. Florida Bankruptcy Bar Association
- Post Judgment Interest Rates
- Standing Orders
- Statistical Tables
- Unclaimed Funds
- More Options...
- ECF Helpdesk
Filing an Adversary Proceeding (AP) Without an Attorney
ADVERSARY PROCEEDINGSThe information provided here is intended to answer frequently asked questions and should not be interpreted as legal advice or to serve as a complete guide as to what is required in an adversary proceeding. This information is subject to change without notice.
What is an Adversary Proceeding?
Who Typically Files an Adversary Proceeding?
Requirements to Initiate an Adversary Proceeding
Pleading Style and Signatures
Service of Summons
Change of Address
Payment of Filing Fees
Failure to Comply
WHAT IS AN ADVERSARY PROCEEDING?
An adversary proceeding (or “AP”) is a lawsuit filed separate from but related to the bankruptcy case. It is an action commenced by one or more Plaintiffs filing a Complaint against one or more Defendants and resembles a typical civil case. 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 in the bankruptcy case, but instead require the commencement of an adversary proceeding. These types of actions are found in Rule 7001 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.ATTORNEY REPRESENTATION
The laws pertaining to bankruptcy are very complex. Like many lawsuits, an adversary proceeding can involve complicated factual circumstances and legal questions. The Clerk’s Office staff, the judge, the judge’s staff and the trustee appointed to oversee the bankruptcy case are not permitted to answer legal questions or provide legal advice. It is strongly recommended that you retain legal counsel to represent you in an adversary proceeding.
Any individual who is a Plaintiff or Defendant may represent themselves pro se (without legal counsel). Corporations, partnerships and other business entities must be represented by an attorney. [See Rule 2090-1 of the Local Bankruptcy Rules for the Northern District of Florida.] All litigants involved in an adversary proceeding must comply with the Local Rules, the United States Bankruptcy Code and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure as well as observe traditional and customary rules of decorum. Failure to do so can result in dismissal of the case or other sanctions.WHO TYPICALLY FILES AN ADVERSARY PROCEEDING?
Common adversary matters often involve dischargeability of a particular debt or denial of a discharge of all debts, preference payment (an action to recover money paid to a creditor just prior to filing bankruptcy), violation of the automatic stay, or fraudulent transfer issues. An adversary proceeding is typically filed by a creditor, a trustee, or the debtor.REQUIREMENTS TO INITIATE AN ADVERSARY PROCEEDING
An adversary proceeding is commenced by the filing of a Complaint. A Complaint is a formal, written statement in which the initiating party, (i.e., the Plaintiff) presents the facts as he or she believes them to be and demands relief to which he or she is entitled under the law. Each Complaint is unique and there is no specific or official form provided by the court.The Complaint usually consists of five main parts:
- The case caption which identifies the Court, bankruptcy case, and party information for the adversary.
- The narrative statement identifying the name and location of the parties involved in the adversary proceeding as well as description of the transaction or other relationship between the parties that gives rise to the complaint.
- The jurisdiction or reason your case is being filed in this bankruptcy court.
- The allegations or claims that you are making against the Defendant.
- 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.
In addition to the Complaint, you must complete and submit the Adversary Proceeding Cover Sheet (Procedural Form B104) with the Complaint. If filing electronically (registered CM/ECF users only), you must include the Cover Sheet as an attachment to the Complaint.PLEADING STYLE AND SIGNATURES
All pleadings submitted to the Court must be on 8 1/2" x 11" paper, the writing must be legible and double-spaced, whether typed or printed, and it must bear an original signature if not filed electronically.SERVICE OF SUMMONS
When a Complaint is filed, the Clerk’s Office will generate a Summons [form B250A] form which is returned to the Plaintiff for service. A Summons is a writ used to notify the person(s) named as the Defendant(s) of the commencement of the adversary proceeding and the requirement to appear and answer. Service of the Complaint and Summons must be executed in accordance with Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7004. After the Complaint and Summons have been served, the Plaintiff must file a Certificate of Service indicating the parties have been served and by what method, i.e. USPO, personal service, etc.CHANGE OF ADDRESS
You must notify the Clerk of Court in writing of any change of address. Hearing notices and other documents will be sent to you by U.S. Mail if you are not an electronic participant to the case. Your case may be dismissed if you cannot be contacted by mail.PAYMENT OF FILING FEES
A filing fee is required in most instances when filing an adversary proceeding unless the Plaintiff is the debtor in a chapter 7 or 13 case and the adversary proceeding is related to the debtor’s discharge. Please refer to the current fee schedule for the filing fee amount.
Plaintiffs who are not debtors in a pending bankruptcy case may pay filing fees by credit card, cash (exact amount), check, money orders, or cashier’s checks. Personal checks or credit cards from the debtor, two-party checks, or post-dated checks will not be accepted.
The bankruptcy case must be open at the time the Complaint is filed. If the bankruptcy case is closed, you must file a Motion to Reopen and pay the filing fee (if applicable) to reopen the case. The reopening fee is in addition to the adversary proceeding filing fee.PRIVACY INFORMATION
Bankruptcy cases and their related adversary proceedings are public record. Do not place the full Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number on any documents to be filed in the adversary proceeding. Documents which must include personally identifiable information must be redacted or truncated prior to filing. (Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9037). You may abbreviate the information as shown in the following examples:
- Social Security Number and/or Taxpayer Identification Number: last four digits only (e.g., xxx-xx-1234)
- Financial Account Numbers: last four digits only
- Birthdate: year of birth only
- Names of Minor children: initials only (no names)
Failure to comply with any of the requirements may result in the Plaintiff’s Complaint being dismissed or may result in a judgment being entered against the Defendant(s). An Order to Show Cause may also be entered which requires the party to appear in Court and explain the lack of compliance. The information contained herein is not intended to be a complete guide as to what is required in an adversary proceeding.