Attorney Intake Questionnaire: Hiring An Attorney - Adversary Proceeding
In most cases, personal bankruptcy will be relatively straightforward. In some cases, however, someone may object to a portion of the bankruptcy.
This occurs most often where a creditor is alleging that a debt should not be forgiven (or "discharged") because of fraud, but it can also happen if a creditor thinks you are abusing the system, have not disclosed assets, or have not fairly characterized its claim.
Adversary Proceeding 101
The procedure by which the court determines whether or not a creditor should be discharged if it objects is called an "adversary proceeding." An adversary proceeding is like regular litigation, but it takes place in the bankruptcy court and is tried by the bankruptcy judge.
Because adversary proceedings are legally complicated and time-consuming, most attorneys who specialize in bankruptcy are not prepared to get involved in them. In fact, many "bankruptcy specialists" explain in their retainer agreements that they will not help you with an adversary proceeding. That means you are again faced with finding an attorney.
Finding the Right Attorney For Adversary Proceedings
You will want to meet with any attorney you are considering hiring, to see if you and the attorney can work together. You will really be interviewing the attorney just like you are interviewing a job applicant.
In order to do the best possible job on your behalf, your attorney needs your input and cooperation. At your first meeting with your attorney, you should be prepared to provide the following information:
- Length of time at that address
- Previous address(es) (for last ten years)
- Phone number
- Job information (position, how many years you have worked there, etc.)
- Other litigation you have been involved in
- Other adversary proceedings, or other litigation, you are currently involved in
- Bankruptcy case file number
- Judge assigned
- Trustee assigned
- Date filed
Information About the Other Parties
- Who is making the adversary claim (your opponent)?
- Is your opponent a business?
- Form of your opponent's business (corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, etc.)
- Their home or business address (and county)
- Phone numbers
- Do they have an attorney?
- Contact person for your opponent?
- Other officers of officials of the business
- Are you aware of any litigation your opponent has been involved in?
- What does your opponent or your opponent's business make or do?
Information About the Case (Why Is This Going To Court?)
- Describe the incident that occurred that resulted in your opponent bringing this adversary proceeding
- How much is your opponent claiming should be excepted from discharge?
- Are there written documents that relate to any agreements you have with your opponent?
- Are you aware of any claims you may have against your opponent? If so, please explain them.