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Adversary Proceeding

Definition - What does Adversary Proceeding mean?

An adversary proceeding is a legal proceeding between two parties with opposing interests (i.e. a lawsuit within the legal proceeding). For example, if an adversary proceeding is filed within a bankruptcy it means a complaint has been filed in bankruptcy court to contest an element of the procedure. This most commonly occurs when a creditor files an adversary proceeding against discharging a specific debt, arguing that the debt the debtor is requesting to discharge should not be allowed.

When is an adversary proceeding filed in bankruptcy?

Debts may not be discharged for a variety of reasons: the debt was created through fraudulent actions of the debtor or the debt was assessed against the debtor through a personal injury claim for drunken driving. Trustees may also decide to file an adversary proceeding if they discover a debtor intentionally hid assets from them or the debtor illegally transferred property prior to filing bankruptcy.

Adversary proceeding process

If an adversary proceeding is filed against a debtor they will receive a notification by mail. They must respond with an answer to the complaint within 30 days after issuance of the summons. A pre-trial conference date will be included on the summons. The debtor must attend the hearing, and they must meet with the attorney for the creditor to determine how discovery will be conducted. A discovery plan must be submitted within 14 days from the meeting to the court for approval, disapproval, or modification. Discovery will then be conducted.

Talk to a bankruptcy lawyer about information about the tools and requirements of this process. Motions may be filed by both parties during the adversary proceedings, and there are specific responses which must be filed with the court within specific deadlines. After motions and discovery are completed, a trial will be held. Exhibits, witness statements, and trial statements must be filed with the court within 2 weeks prior to trial. The trial date is assigned at the pre-trial conference, and the Court will generally schedule the trial within 60 and 120 days.

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