Tips for Filling Out Forms

Legal documents are an important part of taking your case to court. They tell the court who you are and what you are asking for. Incorrect or improperly completed forms may even be grounds to have your case dismissed.

How to find the correct forms

You may check with your local clerk of court to find the correct forms for your case. The clerk is a great resource to verify you have all the forms you need, however, they are unable to tell you what to put in the forms. You may also get forms online.

How to use the forms

Many forms have an instructions page attached, or instructions written throughout the form. It is important to carefully read through the instructions before completing the form. Also be sure that you have all the necessary pages to your form.

Completing the forms

Fill out your form completely and carefully, taking care to do one section at a time. Make sure it is clear and easy to read. Use blue or black ink to complete your form, or type in the information. Some forms allow you to fill in the information online and then print out the completed form.

Try not to leave blanks in your forms. You may need to write things like "not applicable", "none", or "unknown". If there are places to give information about your lawyer and you do not have one, write "self-represented".

Some forms require you to sign them after printing them or filling them out. If the form is asking you to sign "under penalty of perjury", it means that when you sign it, you are swearing that what is on the form is true and correct to the best of your knowledge.

After finishing the forms

Be sure you keep copies of all your forms. Always keep a copy for yourself. Make sure all your copies are kept clean, safe, and in order. It may help to keep them in a folder that you can bring with you throughout your case.

If you see that the form needs to be "filed", you must be sure you return it to the clerk of courts, mail it in, or file it online. The form is not valid until it is returned as directed. There may be a fee to file. Find out more about fees. Also pay attention if you need to "serve" the form on the other party. More information about personal service.

If you need help with the forms

Remember, the clerk of courts in your area can verify you have all the forms you need and that you have them all filled out. However, they cannot tell you what to put in your forms and may not be able to answer questions you have about the forms. You may need to do research or even contact a lawyer to complete the form if you have questions. Find additional resources.