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Legal Information

Preparing for Court - By Yourself

Court can be challenging, even for people who do have attorneys. It can be especially difficult, however, for people who don’t have attorneys to help them. This section provides general information about the court process for people who have to represent themselves in court. Here we discuss the basics of the legal system, how to start a court case, what to expect when you get to court, and what you can do if you are not satisfied with the outcome. If you need more information, you may be able to find state specific information on your state’s court website or through your area’s legal services organization.

Links to court forms for protection orders and other types of cases in each state.

Basic legal definitions and other information that may be important to a person who is thinking about starting a court case.

Information on how to start a court case, drafting and filing a petition or complaint, and serving the other party.

Information about what happens in your court case before the actual trial, including discovery demands, motions, depositions, and other procedural steps.

An explanation of what happens at a protection order hearing and some tips on how to prepare. Although it addresses protection order cases specifically, the general principles may be useful for self-represented litigants in other types of cases as well, such as custody cases.

General information about what you can do after the trial if you are not happy with the outcome, including appeals and other options.