Step 2: File Your Court Forms
'Filing your court forms' means mailing or taking the forms to the courthouse and giving them to a court clerk. The clerk will put the original forms in a file that starts the court case, then stamp the photocopies and return them to the person doing the filing. Here's how to do it:
After you have done Step 1, (get and fill in the court forms you need), then --
Call the courthouse closest to you and ask three questions:
- Is this the courthouse where this case should be filed?
- How many photocopies of the forms will I need after the forms have been filed?
- How much money will it cost to file the forms, and how can I pay the fees?
For help in finding the courthouse closest to you click here.
File your court forms:
When you think your forms have been filled out correctly and completely, make the required number of photocopies of each form and all of the attachments.
You will have to pay a filing fee. You can call the clerk's office before you go to find out the fee, and how you can pay.
- For information on filing fees in California, click here.
- If you cannot afford the filing fees, there are forms, called "Fee Waiver" forms, you may file to ask if the judge will allow you to pay less or nothing at all, click here.
You can file your court forms in one of three ways:
- In person (By visiting the courthouse, handing the forms to the clerk yourself and paying the appropriate filing fee)
- By mail (Note: this process can be slower than filing in person if you have made big mistakes in completing the forms.)
- By hiring a forms filing service (For a fee, some companies will take your forms to the courthouse and make sure they are filed and that the filing fees are paid.)
Once the court clerk has your forms and filing fees, he or she will:
- Assign a case number. (You will always use this same case number when submitting forms and documents related to this court case.)
- Stamp all photocopies of the forms, and keep the original copy of the Petition to put in the court file.
- Return the original copy of the Summons to you. (Be sure to keep this in a safe place because you will need it for the next step of the process.)
- Give you two (or more) sets of forms and attachments. (You will keep one set of forms, and you will have the second set of forms served on your spouse or partner.)
Next, get one (1) more form:
- Response-Marriage/Domestic Partnership (Form FL-120)
Now you need to "serve" the papers. For information on how to do this click here.
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