Where do I file my civil case?
In the Court that has jurisdiction over your case and in the district that is the proper venue (geographic location) for the issue being litigated. There is also a form on the website under local forms, called Certificate of Assignment. You must file this form with your new case. The questions on the form will help determine the proper filing district. See also the general definition of venue.
How much does it cost to file a new case or subsequent filings?
Filing fees vary according to the type of case, jurisdiction and type of motion. Please see the current civil fee schedule.
When will my case be heard by the judge?
When you, the plaintiff or petitioner, file your case, in most circumstances, you will receive a court date for some type of status hearing along with a Notice of Case Assignment telling you which department your case is assigned to. The court will monitor the case for delays in moving the case forward by setting a status hearing. For general civil filings you may have a date set for a hearing regarding service of the summons and complaint and you may have a date for a Case Management Conference.
If you file a petition you must request a date for a hearing and give notice of the hearing according to the laws governing proper service and notice of hearings. You will be given a date for a status hearing that is not the actual hearing on the matter. If you did not request and serve notice of the date for the actual petition to be heard the status hearing helps the Court to monitor the file to ensure that the case is moving forward.
If you are the defendant or respondent in a case you will be notified by the plaintiff or petitioner about hearings they have set on the case or been notified by the court about. If you are unsure about future hearing dates you can view case information on the website. Defendants and respondents are required to file formal responsive pleadings in order to preserve their rights and be involved in the case even if there is an appearance at a hearing.
I want to file a motion in my case. How can I find out what dates motions are heard in the district?
Call the court district where your case is assigned and listen to the prompts listed on the automated call center. Press the appropriate number given to speak to a civil clerk to get the available days and times and to reserve a motion date. You will then have the date to include in your pleading and to give notice to the opposing party or parties. Please note that CCP 1005 and other codes set the time frames for proper notice and filing of motions. The date you set must comply or you could have your motion denied for improper notice.
Can I get help with information on handling my own civil case at the Court?
There are links on this website to self-help, legal aid information, the bar association and other resources to research how to handle your own case. The clerks cannot give legal advice – only procedural advice can be provided by the clerk’s office staff. Civil matters can be complex and you may need to contact an attorney for advice and options for handling your case.
What forms are available for filing civil matters with the Court?
There is a link to the Judicial Council website where you can find forms and information. There are also local forms available on this website. Some filings do not have a form created for use and must be prepared on pleading paper and formatted according to the California Rules of Court.
You may need to seek legal advice if you cannot locate the forms you need. The clerk’s office has some forms and forms packets pre-printed. You may look at a list of them to select forms and forms packets to purchase from the Court, but you should have an idea of what you need – the clerk is limited on the ability to advise you and select specific forms for your particular legal issues, but can direct you to the standard form packets we have on hand. Since civil can be complex and include a variety of issues there are not many form packets available for civil litigation. The Judicial Council website is an excellent resource and lists all currently available forms by category.
I don’t understand all of these legal terms. How can I learn more?
See the Glossary of Civil Terms for definitions of many of the terms used in civil procedure. You can also get information on the Judicial Council website and the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) website. Please see the links to various resources located on the Court’s website.