This section gives you general information about filing papers in court. If you want to find out exactly what forms you need for your particular topic, go to our home page and click on the topic you need. You will find forms and instructions there.

Filing Papers at the Court

First, make sure you read our section on Basics of Court forms, where you will find a lot of useful information about preparing your paperwork before you go to court.

Once you are ready to file your papers in court, there are some general rules that apply:

  • Make sure you take the original plus at least 2 copies of your documents. The court will keep the original. The clerk will stamp your copies “Filed” and return them to you. You can then make more copies of your copies if you need them.
  • Make sure you use the correct case number on your paperwork. If you are starting a case, you will not have a case number. But, any time you are filing papers after the first petition or complaint, you should already have a case number. If you have several cases, make sure you have the right case number for the papers you are filing. The court clerk can help you figure this out if you are not sure what number to use.
  • If you are not using Judicial Council forms, make sure that your papers follow the requirements in the California Rules of Court, starting with rule 2.100.
  • Some courts also have local rules for filing. Some local rules require special cover sheets or local forms. Ask the court clerk in your local court if there are any local rules that apply to your case. Or click to find your court’s local rules online.


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