WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Important: Even if courts are closed, you can still file for a protection order and other emergency relief. See our FAQ on Courts and COVID-19.

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.

Frequently asked questions on how courts are handling restraining order cases and virtual hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

This page explains they typical process at a hearing or a trial. It also walks through how to testify, admit evidence, and make objections.

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