Step 1: Get and fill out your court forms

en español>

To start your small claims case, you need to get and fill out a:

  • Plaintiff's Claim and ORDER to Go to Small Claims Court/Information for the Defendant (Small Claims) (Form SC-100) Opens new window
    See the instructions Opens new window for this form.

This form tells the court and the person, business or government agency you want to sue about your claim.

NOTE: Contact the Small Claims Advisor in your area if you need help in deciding where to file your claim – or if you have other questions about your case. To find the Small Claims Advisor for your area, click here. Opens new window

You may also need to fill out other forms. 

Parents filing a case for their child must also fill out an:

  • Application and Order for Guardian ad Litem (Form CIV-010Opens new window

An attorney or client in a fee dispute must fill out an:

  • Attorney Fee Dispute (Form SC-101Opens new window

Businesses must fill out a:

  • Fictitious Business Name (Form SC-103Opens new window

And, where there is a special relationship, or a corporation, LLC or partnership is involved, a person wanting to appear in court for either the plaintiff or defendant must ask the court to allow them do so by filling out an:

  • Authorization to Appear on Behalf of Party (Form SC-109) Opens new window

Select the forms you need by clicking on the form number.  You can either download and print the form, or fill it out on your computer and then print it out. 

  • The forms are PDFs you may fill out on-line. You will need Adobe Reader to view these files. You can download this program free from the Adobe web site.  If you need this form in another format, please contact us.
  • For information about how to use fillable forms, click here. Opens new window

If you are not able to download these forms from this website, you can get the forms at your courthouse, photocopy them at your public library, or buy them at some bookshops.

You may want to work with someone, like a friend, while filling them out. It's going to take some time. Forms may be handwritten, but they must be printed neatly so other people can read them easily.

If a corporation, LLC or partnership is suing, a person authorized to file a claim must sign the form and include their title.

NOTE 1: The person who files the first papers is called the "plaintiff", and is listed as the plaintiff on all court forms connected with this court case until a judgment has been made.

The other person or business is automatically called the "defendant", and will always be listed on the court forms in this way until a judgment has been made.

NOTE 2: Before you can file your papers, you have to have the proper legal name of the person or business you are suing, and know where you can find them.

If the defendant is a business or a corporation and you do not know the exact legal
name, check with the state or local licensing agency, the county clerk’s office, or
the Office of the Secretary of State, Corporation Status Unit at www.ss.ca.gov/business. Opens new window

To learn more about how to name the defendant, click here.

To view a short video called "Paperwork Basics" (forms), click here. Opens new window

After you have filled out your form(s), you have to file Opens new window them at the clerk's office at the courthouse.  To learn how to do this, click here.


Did this information help you?  Tell us what you think.