The Law Dictionary

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How To Petition The Court

Petitioning the court is the act of asking the court to hear a case. Any case that is heard before a court, no matter whether it is a divorce case or a child custody one, must first go through a petition. Petitioning the court consists of filing the appropriate forms to request permission from the court to have a certain matter heard. Although the general process of petitioning the court is a relatively simple one, it can seem overwhelming to people who’ve never done it before and don’t know all the requirements governing the court system.

<h1>Obtain the Appropriate Forms</h1>

Petitioners should determine the types of forms that are needed to file the types of petitions that they want to file. For instance, people wanting to file bankruptcy must obtain bankruptcy forms, people wanting to file for legal guardianship of a minor need guardianship forms and so on. Many forms can be obtained online, but they can also be obtained by visiting county courthouses and speaking with the clerk of courts. Clerks might charge people a fee to print such forms for them, though.

<h1>File the Forms</h1>

After obtaining the appropriate forms, individuals simply fill them out completely and then file them and pay the required filing fee. Many petitions have filing fees, and some fees are more expensive than others. For instance, it might cost more to file a bankruptcy petition than it does to file a guardianship one and so on. People might also have to sign their forms in the presence of a notary as well. Some states require that they do so. Evidence and other types of supporting documents for a case may be submitted with petitions as well. For instance, dates of separation and statements of income might be required for divorce petitions, whereas credit counseling certificates might be required for bankruptcy petitions. When filing the forms, generally three copies must all be made, signed and filed. Each copy will them be stamped with information containing the case number, trial or hearing date for the matter and the court where the case will be heard.

Petitioning the court is a relatively simply process that mostly requires time and legwork to ensure that the appropriate forms are filed. People who retain the services of lawyers can expect their lawyers to do all the filing of petitions for them. However, those that want to go it alone can file their own petitions by following the appropriate procedure.


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.