Basics of Court Forms & Filings
Learn how to find and fill out legal forms, how to create your own legal documents, and how to file documents with the court.
Forms are printed documents with spaces where you can insert information. Forms have been created (by courts, self-help centers, legal aid organizations, and the like) to help people in their court cases. Forms may not explain the governing law to you, and they may not provide or cover all of the information necessary for the court to reach a decision.
There are many places where you might be able to find legal forms online. Keep in mind, though, that not every form can be found online. If you cannot find a form suitable to your needs on the Internet, you may have to create a form using a sample, an outline, or instructions from a variety of resources. Your local law library will be a terrific resource and the place to start your research. Visit our Law Libraries page to learn more.
- Family Law Self-Help Center. The Family Law Self-Help Center forms have been approved for use in the Family Court in Clark County. Forms cover topics such as divorce, custody, guardianship, name changes, and many others. The forms are available for free online. Visit the Forms section to find the forms available.
- Civil Law Self-Help Center. The Civil Law Self-Help Center forms have been approved for use in the civil and justice courts in Clark County. Forms cover topics such as evictions, small claims, lawsuits for money, harassment and protection, among others. The forms are available for free online. Visit Civil Law Self-Help Center Forms to learn more.
- Court websites. The court where your case is pending might have court-created forms available on its website for particular types of cases.
- Online forms websites. There are a number of websites where you can download legal forms, sometimes for a cost and sometimes for free. Be careful when using these sites! The forms you find may not be appropriate for your case or your jurisdiction. Most cities also have legal forms stores where you can purchase many generic legal forms.
- Make sure you have the most current version of the form.
- Make sure your forms are printed on only one side of the paper. The court only accepts single-sided copies. Making double-sided copies can result in future copying mistakes.
- Read the entire form and any instructions that came with it BEFORE you start filling out the form. This will give you a better idea of the form’s purpose and what information you will need to provide.
- Be sure your completed forms are easy to read. Use only black ink or type them. Many forms are available online, and you can fill them out online too if you have a computer.
- Always use your legal name, current address, daytime telephone number, and a valid e-mail address. If you want your home address to stay private, you can use another address where you receive mail. If your address changes, file a change of address form with the court. Until you change the address you provided, the judge and court will assume you have received whatever legal papers were sent to you.
- Most forms have a "caption" on the first page that you always need to fill out. The caption contains your name, address, phone number, and e-mail. The caption also lists the name of the plaintiff, the name of the defendant, the case number, and the department number.
The case caption almost never changes during the course of a case. Typically, whoever is listed as the plaintiff at the start of the case will stay the plaintiff until the end. The same is true for the defendant, the case number, and the department number.
- If you do not have a lawyer, write "in proper person" or "self-represented" anywhere the form asks for the name of your attorney or says "Attorney for."
- Fill out the forms completely. If something does not apply to you, write "N/A" (meaning "not applicable"). If the answer to a question is "none," write "none." If you do not know the answer to a question, write "unknown." Try not to leave blanks in your forms.
- Sign your forms in each place that requires your signature. Use black ink only. Notice that on many court forms you are signing "under penalty of perjury." That means when you sign the form you are declaring that what is on the form is true and correct. Take this seriously! There are both civil and criminal penalties for perjury.
- Complete one section of the form at a time. If you have questions about a particular section or question, leave it blank until you can get your question answered.
- If you don’t understand something in a form, you may be able to get your questions answered at the Self-Help Center. Staff can also review your forms for completeness before you file them with the court.
- If you need legal advice before filling out your forms, you may need to talk to a private attorney (visit Lawyers and Legal Help), a volunteer attorney at one of the Ask-A-Lawyer programs (visit Ask-A-Lawyer Programs), or an attorney at one of the free legal classes if your question relates to one of the class topics (visit Free Classes). You can also go to your local law library and ask a librarian for books and resources to help you complete your forms (visit Law Libraries to learn more).
- You must keep the originals of every form you file. Keep your legal documents in a safe place for your records. Organizing your copies by date of the document will help you find documents quickly. Take your entire document file with you every time you go to the courthouse.
Fill-in-the-blank legal forms typically address the most common situations that courts and judges see over and over. But your case – and most every case, in fact – is undoubtedly unique in some ways. So there may not be a ready-made form that addresses the needs of your case. If you cannot find the pre-printed, fill-in-the-blank form you need, you will have to create the legal document yourself.
If you need to create your own legal document, it is best to find a good example to work from. A few tips for finding and working with sample documents:
- Look for a sample that is the same general type of pleading or motion that you are creating. For example, if you are trying to write a complaint to sue someone, look for a sample complaint (not a sample motion or opposition). Different types of legal documents are used to accomplish different things in different situations.
- Look for a sample where the facts involved are as close to the facts of your case as possible.
- Find a sample document where the party is trying to accomplish the same thing as you.
- Use the samples you find ONLY as guides to help you create your own documents. Do not copy word for word because some things may not apply to your case and could even hurt you. If you do not understand a word or phrase, do not include it unless you find out what it means.
When preparing your documents, make sure their format complies with the rules of the court where your case is pending. Most courts have rules about how documents are supposed to look and what information they must contain.
If you have a case in the Eighth Judicial District Court, Local Rule 7.20 governs the general form of papers to be filed, exhibits, documents, and legal citation. There are other local rules that may also apply to your documents. Visit our District Court Rules page to learn more. For district court document preparation guidelines, visit the District Court Clerk Document Guidelines page.
To download blank pleading paper (paper with numbers down the left-hand margin, a case caption on the first page, a signature block, and the like) in Microsoft Word that you can save to your computer and use to prepare your own documents, click on the link below:
If you need to file documents with the court, you must attach a cover page in the proper court format and give your filing a name. You can download a blank cover sheet below if you simply need a cover page to attach to documents you would like to file.
Any document you want the judge to see must be “filed.” There may be a filing fee for the documents you are trying to file, which is payable by cash, money order, and most major credit/debit cards. You can find a list of the current filing fees by clicking here. If you cannot afford the filing fee, visit Fee Waivers for information on how to ask the court to waive the filing fee.
There are three typical ways that court documents are filed:
In Person: Bring your filing fee and the forms to the Family Courts and Services Center. You will be able to file your papers in person at the Clerk’s Office. The Clerk’s Office is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m, but you must arrive by 3:40 p.m. to see a Clerk before closing. Be sure to arrive before then.
By Mail: If you cannot come to the court during business hours, you can mail your forms and the filing fee to:
Family Courts and Services Center
Attn: Clerk of Court
601 North Pecos Road
Las Vegas, NV 89101
- Online: Many documents can be filed online through the court's e-filing system, eFileNV (although some documents must be filed in person). There is a fee of $3.50 to upload your documents, in addition to the regular filing fee. You must register for an account, you must provide a valid email address, and you must be able to scan and upload your documents.
If you efile your documents, you will be agreeing to be served with future legal documents electronically. Be sure to use an email address that you will check regularly so that you do not miss important legal documents filed in your case. If your email addresses changes, you must update that information in your efile account. If you would rather receive future legal documents through the U.S. Mail, file your documents in person or by mail.
After filing your documents, you usually need to “serve” a copy of the documents on the other party. The court does not serve the documents for you. Be sure you understand and follow the rules of service. If you do not, your case could be delayed or dismissed.
To visit the Clerk of Court's website and learn more about filing in the district court, click here.