360 Adams Street, Room 122C
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Hours of Operation: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays 9:00am - 5:00pm
This center was created to assist litigants who either choose not to be represented or have not retained counsel. Self-represented litigants are provided with sample forms and are informed of court procedures and service requirements associated with their case.
NOTE: THE KINGS COUNTY COURT HELP CENTER IS PROHIBITED BY LAW FROM GIVING LEGAL ADVICE AND CAN NOT COMPLETE FORMS ON YOUR BEHALF. ANYONE INTERESTED IN BEGINNING A LAWSUIT IS STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO SEEK LEGAL COUNSEL.
For your convenience, listed below are sample forms and guides distributed by the Help Center in the Supreme Court of Kings County, Civil Term that you can print at your convenience:
- How to Commence a Civil Action
- How to Commence a Special Proceeding
- How to File a Motion
- How to file a Notice of Appearance
- How to File a Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI)
- How to File an Answer
- How to File an Order to Show Cause
- How to Respond to a Motion or Order to Show Cause
- How to Serve Legal Papers When Commencing an Action or Proceeding
- How to File an Order to Show Cause with a Temporary Restraining Order New Cases
- How to File an Order to Show Cause with a Temporary Restraining Order Existing Cases
- Poor Person Application
Additional forms are available on the UCS Forms Page.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Form Programs are free and easy guided step-by-step programs to help you fill your court forms. The programs ask you questions then use your answers to prepare a form for your case or to make an information sheet to help you at court.
To get started you can use the Supreme Court Adult Name Change Petition Program to change your name. The adult name change form is used to ask (or “petition”) the NY State Supreme Court to change your name. The petition (court paper) may be filed in the Supreme Court in the county where the person lives. If your name change is granted by the Court, you must publish your new name in the newspaper within 20 days of the Judge's signing of the order. You then have to file proof of publication from the newspaper in the County Clerk's Office. New York City residents can use the New York City Civil Court Adult Name Change Petition Program on the NYC Civil Court website. The filing fee in New York City Civil Court is much less.
Copies of divorces are obtained in the County Clerk’s Office in the county where the divorce was granted. Only the parties or their attorney may view the court file or obtain a copy of the divorce. Please note there are fees for printing and copying the original divorce decree. Photo identification is also required.
If both you and your spouse agree to a divorce – this includes all other issues, such as child support, custody and visitation, and marital assets – you may be able to get an uncontested divorce. Instruction books and form books for Uncontested Divorces are available in the Supreme Court, Civil Term. You can also use the court’s free and easy Uncontested Divorce Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Program to create your uncontested divorce paperwork. Please note, there are no preprinted forms for a separation agreement. The agreement is drawn up by the parties themselves or their attorney, then signed and acknowledged (signed in front of a notary). A separation agreement is not valid unless it is signed and acknowledged by both sides.
If the other person does not want a divorce or disagrees with you about certain issues, your divorce will be contested. For more information, visit the court’s Divorce Resources page and the Kings Supreme Court Matrimonial page.
The court does not provide counsel in civil actions, nor can they recommend a particular attorney or law firm. The bar associations do provide referrals depending on the kind of action for which the litigant is seeking representation. You can search for an attorney on CourtHelp.
The authority to regulate and discipline lawyers in New York State is vested in the Appellate Divisions of the NYS Supreme Court. Each Appellate Division has one or more attorney grievance committees and each will accept and investigate written complaints.
A motion or order to show cause with an affidavit in support must be filed with notice in the court where the judgment was entered and served on all parties in the action pursuant to the Civil Practice Law and Rules. A copy of the judgment or lien must be included in the papers being submitted.
To vacate a default judgment in a consumer debt case you can use the courts' Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Form Program. It is a free and easy program that makes papers that help you tell a judge why you missed your court date or didn’t answer a summons and complaint in a consumer debt case.
A verified answer must be filed with the court and served on all parties within the statutory time to respond to a complaint pursuant to the Civil Practice Law and Rules. A motion is answered by filing and serving on the court and parties appearing in the action, a notarized affidavit in opposition, or cross-motion within the statutory time pursuant to the Civil Practice Law and Rules.
If you were born within the five boroughs of New York City, contact the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Office of Vital Records at 212-639-9675. Applications are available at the NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene at 125 Worth Street, Room 133. If you were born in New York but outside of New York City, contact the Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Correction Unit at 518-474-5018. If you were born outside of New York, contact the vital statistics office in the State or area where you were born.
A verified petition with notice of petition, or order to show cause must be filed in the Supreme Court. The filing fees are $210.00 for the index number and $95.00 for the request for judicial intervention unless the fees are waived by the court, pursuant to a poor person order. The petition must include a copy of the agency’s final determination which the petitioner is appealing.
An order to show cause with a temporary restraining order and an affidavit of emergency together with a notarized affidavit in support must be filed with the court. If granted, all parties must be served with the court papers and must appear on the date selected by the judge. The judge will make a determination after hearing from both parties.
Generally, you may commence a civil action in this court to obtain money damages or some other form of relief from a private person or entity (i.e., a corporation) whose actions have resulted in a violation of your rights. The action is commenced when the party alleging harm (plaintiff) files either a summons and complaint or a summons with notice with the court. The summons invokes the jurisdiction of the court and provides notice to the alleged wrongdoer (defendant) of the reason why he is being sued. Accordingly, the summons MUST be served with either a complaint or a short explanation (“notice”) describing the nature of the action and the relief being sought. Service on the defendant must be made within 120 days of filing and obtaining an index number from the County Clerk.
The summons must contain the following information: the name of the court; the caption box containing the names of the parties; the index number assigned by the court; the date the summons is filed with the County Clerk’s Office; the name, address, and telephone number of the plaintiff or his/her attorney; and the name and address of the defendant(s).
The complaint provides details of the plaintiff’s claim(s) against the defendant(s). It must describe the legal basis for each claim by stating the elements of each cause of action, how the defendant’s behavior or inaction caused harm, and what compensation plaintiff is entitled to receive. The facts should be recited clearly, concisely, and chronologically, providing specific dates and places. Lastly, your complaint should conclude with a paragraph describing all of the forms of relief you are seeking from the court. In certain actions, such as matrimonial cases, the complaint must contain a verification–that is, the plaintiff must swear to the truth of the allegations contained in the complaint. The rules regarding verifications are explained in Section 3020 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.
The court has the authority to grant many different forms of relief. For example, the court can order a defendant to pay a sum of money, called damages, to the plaintiff to compensate for any injuries sustained. The court can also provide injunctive relief by ordering the defendant to act or refrain from acting in a particular way. In an action seeking declaratory relief, the court determines the rights of each party in a dispute.
Generally, a complaint (and all other documents submitted to this court) must be typed or legibly printed in English, black ink, double-spaced, using 8 ½ by 11 inch (letter-sized) paper, and using one side of the paper only. The papers should be stapled or securely bound (CPLR 2101). For specific rules regarding the format and content of the complaint and other documents, consult Article 30 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.
As an alternative to filing a summons and complaint, you may file a summons with notice to commence a civil action. The summons with notice contains the same information as the summons, but it requires a brief description of the nature of the case and the relief being sought. Thus, the summons with notice is not accompanied by a complaint.
An index number is a number used by the court to identify a case. In order to initiate a civil action, the plaintiff(s) must purchase an index number at the County Clerk’s Office for $210.00, and file the original Summons with Notice or Summons and Complaint with the court. The index number and date of filing of the summons must be included on the summons before the defendant is served. The plaintiff has 120 days from the date of purchase of the index number to serve the summons and complaint or summons with notice on the defendant (CPLR 306-b).
If the plaintiff cannot afford to pay the court fees required to proceed with the lawsuit, he or she can apply for an order waiving those costs. This request is known as a poor person order. The order will only excuse the plaintiff from paying fees normally charged by the court, not other costs that may arise during the course of the lawsuit.
Basic notions of fairness require that the defendant be notified of the lawsuit so that he or she has the opportunity to put forth a defense. This notification process is known as “service.”
After you have served all defendants with a copy of the Summons and Complaint, or Summons with Notice, then you must file proof of that service with the County Clerk’s Office. Failure to file proof of service may result in the dismissal of the case. For more information on service, you should read the pamphlet entitled "How to Serve Legal Papers."
Once served, the defendant has 20 to 30 days to “appear” or to serve the plaintiff with a responding document. The time in which to respond depends on where and how the defendant is served (CPLR 320). If the defendant is served with a Summons and Complaint, the responding document can be an “answer” or a motion for dismissal of the complaint. If the defendant is served with a Summons with Notice, the responding document is called the Notice of Appearance and Demand for the “complaint.” The plaintiff has 20 days from the date he or she receives the demand to serve the defendant with a complaint.
Although a lawsuit is commenced by the filing of the Summons and Complaint, or Summons with Notice, the case will not be assigned to a judge until one of the parties files a Request for Judicial Intervention. The first time a party needs judicial consideration of an issue in the lawsuit, he or she is required to purchase for a $95.00 fee and file a Request for Judicial Intervention. In most instances, the first time a case will come before the court is when a motion is made. A motion is an application to the court for an order resolving a dispute between the parties that occurs during the course of the lawsuit. The first motion made must contain a copy of the Request for Judicial Intervention form.
To properly answer a motion, you must take the following steps:
1. Write answering papers, also referred to as opposing papers. These papers consist of a copy of your affidavit in opposition with exhibits; a memo of law (optional); and a litigation cover.
2. Have copies of the answering papers served upon all other parties to the case.
3. Obtain affidavits of service.
4. Submit the original answering papers to the court, with affidavits of service attached. This is done at the time and place indicated in the Notice of Motion or Order to Show Cause. Below are details for each of these steps.
Answering papers must include an "affidavit in opposition." This affidavit must be carefully written and organized since motions are sometimes decided "upon the papers," which means that the parties will not appear personally in court to present their arguments. After it is written, an affidavit in opposition must be notarized. Any exhibits (documents that support your position) must be attached to the affidavit. The exhibits must be labeled Exhibit A, Exhibit B, and so forth. Exhibit tabs are recommended; they may be purchased at any legal stationery store. If appropriate, you may submit affidavits of other people together with your affidavit in opposition. For example, a person with personal knowledge of issues raised by the motion may provide you with an affidavit to support your allegations. This is only appropriate, however, where the person submitting the affidavit has first-hand knowledge of the dispute. Affidavits by well-meaning friends, politicians, and others who have no first-hand knowledge of the issues will only hurt, not help your case, and should be avoided. Any legal, as opposed to factual issues, raised by the motion, should be addressed in a separate memo (referred to as a "Memorandum of Law"). If the moving party (your opponent in the case) has submitted a Memorandum of Law, you should go to a law library (one is located on the third floor of this court), research the legal arguments presented, and answer them in your own Memorandum in Opposition.
Opposing papers must be served on the date indicated in the Notice of Motion or Order to Show Cause. If the Notice of Motion does not demand service by a specific date, opposing papers must be served at least two days before the return date of the motion. See CPLR 2214(b). If the motion was been made by Order to Show Cause, opposing papers must be served by the return date of the Order to Show Cause, or sooner if the Order to Show Cause requires earlier service.
It is usually proper to serve answering papers by mail. See, Civil Practice Law and Rules (known as the "CPLR") Rule 2103. However, if the court orders some other means of service, you must follow the directive of the court. Legal papers must be served by a person who is not a party to the lawsuit (i.e., not you). CPLR 2103(a). You must have a New York State resident who is over the age of eighteen serve the papers for you and give you a signed, notarized Affidavit of Service. You may obtain a blank Affidavit of Service in the Self-Help Center. Please note: when the opposing party is represented by an attorney, opposing papers must be served upon the attorney by mail, by delivery at the attorney’s office, or in any other manner permitted by CPLR 2214.
Yes. The person serving an Affidavit in Opposition must give you an Affidavit of Service which includes the details of service for each person served. An Affidavit of Service states the item served (in this case, your Affidavit in Opposition), the manner of service (whether by mail or personal service), and other details of service. The affidavit must be notarized, and attached to the original opposition papers before they are submitted to the court. Another acceptable way to prove service of papers is the Acknowledgment of Service. If the party receiving opposing papers is willing to sign an Acknowledgment of Service (printed on most litigation covers), the signed, dated Acknowledgment of Service can serve as proof of service. The term "proof of service" is defined by the CPLR to include Affidavits of Service and Acknowledgments of Service. A litigant cannot, therefore, assume that any other "proof" will be acceptable to the court.
On or before the return date of the motion, you must come to court and hand up the original affidavit in opposition, with affidavit(s) of service attached. Without affidavits or acknowledgments of service, the opposing papers will not be accepted. If an oral argument is required, the date will be set by the Court, and parties are required to either check the Future Court Appearances System (FCAS) or the New York Law Journal.
For Supreme Court and all other New York State Courts' courthouse information, locations, facts, and forms please check out CourtHelp.