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Questions You Want Answered > What is the Court Process? > How do I start the court process?

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The first thing you need to do is stop and take a deep breath.  Starting the court process may not be the best option for you at this point.  It is worth every penny you might spend for an hour with a competent family law attorney.  They can help you decide which path is best for you and your family to take.

Assuming you have decided that startng the court process is what you need to do, that process is begun by the filing of an initial pleading, called a complaint.  Either you or your attorney need to fill out that form, along with the domestic case information report.  Then you take it to the Clerk of the Court's office at the appropriate courthouse and file those papers, along with the filing fee (which varies by county) and a request for a summons.  The Clerk will give you a receipt, and you will receive the summons in about a week.

In order for the court to start acting on your complaint, you must serve it on the other side.  When I say "serve" it, I mean that someone over the age of 18 who is not you must hand the complaint and the summons and the domestic case information report to the other side.  That person must then complete an affidavit of service which says what they gave to the other side, and when and where they gave it to them.  That affidavit is filed with the court.  The filingof that affidavit tells the Clerk that the case needs to start moving through the system, and the next thing you will receive is an order for scheduling/initial conference.  I talk about that conference in answer to another question on this website.

Last updated on September 4, 2013 by Karen Robbins, Attorney at Law