Jupiter Bankruptcy Litigation Lawyer
Bankruptcy is typically an administrative process, and most debtors never see the inside of a courtroom during their bankruptcy, except perhaps for approval of a payment plan or to attend a Meeting of Creditors at the courthouse. Sometimes, however, the need for litigation does arise during the course of a bankruptcy, for example if a creditor disputes the dischargeability of a debt or alleges fraud on the part of the debtor.
Bankruptcy litigation takes place in federal bankruptcy court before a bankruptcy judge. These proceedings are similar to litigation in civil court, but with important differences. For this reason, having the expertise of an experienced bankruptcy lawyer on your side is critical to successfully prosecuting or defending a disputed matter in bankruptcy court. As a board-certified specialist in individual and business bankruptcy law, Jupiter bankruptcy litigation lawyer Julianne Frank has the knowledge and skill to represent debtors and creditors in the full range of adversary proceedings, contested matters and other bankruptcy litigation in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Adversary proceedings in bankruptcy most closely resemble a civil lawsuit in their form and substance. Adversary proceedings may be initiated by the bankruptcy trustee or by one creditor against another, but most often they are brought by a creditor against the debtor, and most typically in a dispute over the dischargeability of a debt. For instance, debts formed via fraud or that result from willful and malicious injury to person or property are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. An example of “willful and malicious injury” may be a civil judgment against a person for assault; this judgment can’t be discharged although other civil judgments may be. Fraud may be alleged by a creditor such as a credit card company when a new account was opened just a few months before the debtor filed for bankruptcy. The credit card issuer may allege the debtor intentionally racked up a large amount of charges without intending to pay off the debt and should not be allowed to have that debt discharged. Such a claim would have to be proven in court.
Adversary proceedings must be brought within 60 days from the section 341 Meeting of Creditors, which typically takes place within a month of the filing of the bankruptcy petition. A creditor who fails to file an adversary proceeding or request an extension before the deadline can lose the ability to challenge the dischargeability of the debt. Also, if the judge finds that the creditor was not substantially justified in bringing the action, the creditor may be required to pay the debtor’s attorney’s fees in defending the action.
The following types of adversary proceedings may be brought under U.S. Bankruptcy Code section 7001
- Determine a debt’s discharge or dischargeability (nondischargeability action)
- Determine priority or validity of a lien
- Recover money or property
- Approve sale of debtor property by a co-owner
- Revoke confirmation of a plan
- Obtain an injunction
- Subordinate a claim
- Obtain a declaratory judgment
- Determine bankruptcy claims removed to a different court under the federal rules of civil procedure
Whereas adversary proceedings resemble civil trials, contested matters proceed less like a trial and more like a motion hearing. An effective bankruptcy attorney will be skilled in the art of arguing the relevant facts and law to the bankruptcy judge to obtain a favorable ruling. Contested matters authorized under Bankruptcy Rule 9014 include:
- Dismissal or conversion of a case
- Objections to confirmation of a plan
- Motions for relief from the automatic stay
- Motions to use cash collateral
- Motions to obtain credit
- Avoidance of liens
- The assumption, rejection or assignment of executory contracts
Help is Available for Bankruptcy Litigation in Palm Beach and Martin Counties
From strategic advice and pre-suit planning to strong and effective representation in all forms of South Florida bankruptcy litigation, call Julianne Frank Law at 561-320-7971 to speak with an experienced Jupiter bankruptcy litigation lawyer.