What is a Court Filing?

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  • Written By: Christine W.
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 11 February 2020
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A court filing refers to a document that is filed with the clerk of the court. When a document is filed with the court, it is processed by the clerk of the court, who stamps the document with an official seal of the court and the date of the court filing. Initial documents that start a case, such as a civil complaint, will be given a case number by the court. Each subsequent court filing for that case should have the case number clearly marked on the document to ensure that it is filed under the proper case.

When a person is involved in a legal matter such as a civil lawsuit, criminal proceeding, bankruptcy or divorce, he or she is required to file certain legal documents. A court filing can be for many purposes, such as disclosing evidence, exchanging information between the parties, to get a ruling from a judge or to request a hearing. Court filings keep a case moving and provide evidence and information necessary for a timely resolution of the case.

Court documents are an official record of the court. In most circumstances, they are subject to public records requests. This means that members of the public have the right to see any court document unless the court file has been sealed or there is some other statute barring public access.


To file a document with the court, one must adhere to certain court guidelines. There are many procedures involved in filing a document with the court. Each court will have its own set of requirements with regard to document filing.

Documents might have to be a specific paper size, single-spaced or double-spaced and maybe even hole-punched. The person filing the document also might need to provide the court a certain number of copies along with the original. In addition, courts also charge filing fees for certain document filings, and the fees will need to be paid at the time of filing. Many courts also require documents to be filed electronically via the Internet.

The filing of legal documents might be subject to strict deadlines or statutes of limitation. Court procedures, statutes and rules all vary by court and area of law. These rules and requirements will need to be met in order to get a document filed by the court. Anyone interested in filing a court document can contact a local court or a law library to find out the court filing requirements in his or her jurisdiction.


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