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adversary proceeding A lawsuit arising in or related to a bankruptcy case that is commenced by filing a complaint with the court. bankruptcy A legal procedure for dealing with debt problems of individuals and businesses; specifically, a case filed under one of the chapters of title 11 of the United States Code (the Bankruptcy Code). bankruptcy petition The document filed by the debtor (in a voluntary case) or by creditors (in an involuntary case) by which opens the bankruptcy case.