60 Centre Street, Room 116
New York, NY 10007
Email: SFC-HelpCenterNY@nycourts.gov (no filings accepted)
This office was created to provide litigants who have no attorney (unrepresented) with free information about court operations, court procedures, and make certain forms available to assist them in taking legal action on their own. If you need to or want to hire an attorney, the Help Center may provide legal referral information for bar associations, pro bono programs/legal services and other low-cost legal alternatives.
NOTE: The staff of the Help Center are not permitted to give legal advice or act as your advocate. All persons involved in a legal action should consult with an attorney.
Interpreter service available upon request.
Additional legal and procedural information and instructions can be found at CourtHelp, the New York State court system’s website for unrepresented litigants: http://www.nycourthelp.gov
The following is a list of fees that must be paid in Supreme Court actions and certain other fees payable to the County Clerk of New York County.
These fees must be paid to the County Clerk in one of his two Cashier's Offices (Room 160 and Room 141B in the basement, both at 60 Centre Street).
The fees must be paid in cash, by Visa, Mastercard, or American Express credit cards, by an attorney's check made payable to the New York County Clerk, or in the form of a U.S. postal money order made payable to the New York County Clerk.
Fees in cases in the court's electronic filing system are paid by credit card on-line.
|Index Number||$ 210|
|Index Number (RPAPL Art. 13 Foreclosure)||$ 400|
|Request for Judicial Intervention||$ 95|
|Note of Issue (no prior RJI)||$ 125|
|Note of Issue (prior RJI paid for)||$ 30|
|Calendar Number, Uncontested Matrimonial||$ 125|
|Jury Demand||$ 65|
|Filing of a Motion||$ 45|
|Filing of a Cross-Motion||$ 45|
|Filing of a Stipulation of Settlement||$ 35|
|Filing of a Stipulation of Discontinuance||$ 35|
|Supreme Court Actions, Certified Copy||$ 8|
|Notice of Appeal||$ 65|
WHERE TO GO AT NEW YORK COUNTY SUPREME COURT
ROOM 116, HELP CENTER (1st Floor)
- For Instructions and forms to:
- Start a Divorce
- Start a Civil Lawsuit
- Make a Motion/Order to Show Cause
- Dispute a NYCHA decision
- Dispute a Parking Ticket Appeals Decision
- Dispute a City/State Agency written decision
- Change your name
- Amend your birth certificate
- Apply for a Fee Waiver (Poor Person’s Order)
ROOM 119, GENERAL CLERK’S OFFICE (1st Floor)
- File Notice of Motion
- Need Assistance with E-Filing
ROOM 119A, COMMERCIAL DIVISION (1st Floor)
- File an Order to Show Cause on a Commercial Matter
ROOM 158, GUARDIANSHIP OFFICE (1st Floor)
- For instructions and forms on how to commence a guardianship proceeding
- Status of a guardianship proceeding
ROOM 141B, COUNTY CLERK’S OFFICE (Basement)
- Purchase an Index Number
- File a Summons and Complaint OR Summons with Notice
- File an Answer
- File a Judgment
- File an Affidavit of Service
- Have something Notarized
- Certify a Birth or Marriage Certificate for foreign jurisdiction
- Certify a notary’s signature
- Get a certified copy of a judgment
- Mechanics Lien
- Records of a case (Room 103B)
ROOM 311, MATRIMONIAL SUPPORT OFFICE (3rd Floor)
- If you have questions about a divorce case
- File uncontested divorce forms
- If you need to have a Notice of Issue in an uncontested divorce approved
ROOM 315, EX PARTE OFFICE (3rd Floor)
- File an Order to Show Cause
- File an Ex Parte Order
- Obtain order to seal records
The Help Center is the point of intake for applications to waive case filing fees (POOR PERSON ORDER). Litigants who are fall under the meaning of a poor person (CPLR Article 11) are unable to proceed with their legal action because of an ability to pay court filing fees. Applications for a poor person order must be made prior to filing your case. Applications must be submitted directly to the Help Center, Room 116 for process.
The application can be found at the link for forms under the Forms section below.
For the convenience of self-represented litigants, the court has placed the most used forms online as a resource. Please be advised that the instructions and forms are intended to be a guide. All persons choosing to represent themselves should research the law prior to commencing a proceeding or submitting an answer. Court staff cannot give legal advice or suggestions nor act as your counsel. Only procedural information can be provided by court staff.
The instructions that are included with the forms assumes that the litigant is filing a paper case (in person filing at the County Clerk’s office). Unrepresented persons may (if they wish to without obligation) commence a new case by means of electronic filing through the New York State Courts Electronic Filing System (“NYSCEF”). In an e-filed case, the steps to be followed would be the same, but filings with the County Clerk and the court would be made via NYSCEF. Information about e-filing can be found on the NYSCEF website at: http://www.nycourts.gov/efile
NEW YORK COUNTY SUPREME COURT VIRTUAL UNCONTESTED DIVORCE PROJECT
This volunteer attorney program is available to prepare divorce papers for people who have agreed to divorce; and
- Whose marriage has been over for at least six months and cannot be saved; and
- Know where their spouse lives: and
- Do not have children under the age of 21.
To use this program, the following technology is required:
- Stable internet connection
- Computer (Windows or Mac) or Smartphone or Tablet (Android or iPhone)
If you are interested in the program, please fill out the Intake Form using the link below:
DO-IT-YOURSELF (DIY) FORM PROGRAMS
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 uses your answers to prepare a form for your case or to make an information sheet to help you at court. The following DIY Form Programs are currently available:
VIRTUAL COURT APPEARANCES FOR THE PUBLIC
New York County Supreme Court conducts virtual court appearances using Microsoft Teams and telephone conferencing. If you have a court appearance through Microsoft Teams you will receive a meeting invitation notification that will tell you how your appearance has been scheduled. If you are uncertain, contact the Part Clerk of the Judge. Use the following link to find contact information for the Judge you are appearing before: Judicial Assignments & Locations | NYCOURTS.GOV
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- Can the court provide me with an attorney?
The court does not provide counsel in civil actions. The court cannot recommend a particular attorney or law firm. You can search for an attorney at the Courthelp website: Find a Lawyer | NY CourtHelp (nycourts.gov). The Help Center also has compiled a list of Legal Referrals to for hire and pro bono attorneys. The list can be found under the Forms section above.
- How do I commence a civil action?
Generally, you may commence a civil action in Supreme Court to obtain money damages over $25,000.00 or some other form of relief from a private person or entity (i.e. corporation) whose actions have resulted in a violation of your rights. To start a civil action the person alleging harm (plaintiff) files either a summons and compliant OR summons with notice (initiating papers) with the court. The summons sets out the jurisdiction of the court and gives notice to the alleged wrongdoer (defendant) of the reason why he/she is being sued. The summons MUST be served with either a complaint OR file a summons with notice. Every lawsuit must be brought within one of the various deadlines known as statutes of limitations (see Statute of Limitations chart | NY CourtHelp (nycourts.gov))
- What is a Summons with Notice?
Instead of filing a summons and complaint, you may file a summons with notice to start 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.
- What information should be in the summons?
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/petitioner or his/her attorney, and the name and addresses of the defendant.
- What kind of information should be in the complaint?
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, in chronological order, providing specific dates and places. Your complaint should end with a paragraph describing all of the forms of relief you are seeking from the court. A complaint (and every other document served in a case in this court) shall be typed, double spaced, or legibly printed, in English, using black ink. It must be on 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper, using only one side of the paper. Papers should be stapled or otherwise bound securely. For specific rules regarding the format and content of the complaint consult Article 30 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR).
- What is an Index Number?
An index number is a number used by the court to identify a case. In order to initiate a civil action, the plaintiff(s)/petitioner(s) must purchase an index number at the County Clerk’s Office, Room 141B, 60 Centre Street, for $210.00, and file the original summons and complaint or summons with notice with the court. The index number and date of filing of the summons must be included on the summons before the defendant/respondent is served. The plaintiff/petitioner has 120 days from the date of purchase of an index number to serve the summons and complaint or summons with notice on the defendant (CPLR 306-b).
- What forms of relief could the court grant me in a civil action?
The court can grant many different forms of relief. For example, the court can order a defendant to pay a sum of money (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.
- What do I do if I cannot afford to pay the court filing fees?
If the plaintiff/petitioner cannot afford to pay the court fees, he or she can apply for an order waiving those costs. This order is called a Poor Person Order. The order will waive paying fees normally charged by the court not other costs that may arise during the course of the lawsuit. Poor person orders are processed through the Help Center, Room 116.
- What is service?
Basic notions of fairness require that the defendant/respondent be notified of the lawsuit so that he or she can have the opportunity to put forth a defense. The notification process is known as “service.”
- What do I do after I have served the Summons and Complaint or Summons with Notice?
After you have served all of the 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 dismissal of the case. For more information on service, you should read the pamphlet on “How to Serve Legal Papers” which can be found under the Forms section above.
- What do I do after I file proof of service?
Once served, the defendant has 20 to 30 days to “appear” or serve the plaintiff with a respondent 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 respondent document can be an “answer” or a motion for dismissal of the complaint. If the defendant is served with a Summons with Notice, the respondent 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.
- What is a Request for Judicial Intervention?
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 (RJI). 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 an RJI. 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.
- How do I answer a motion?
To answer a motion, whether one brought on by Notice of Motion or by Order to Show Cause, the following steps are taken:
- Step 1: Write answering papers, also known as opposing papers. These papers consist of your affidavit in opposition (with exhibits, if you wish) and a litigation back.
- Step 2: Have copies of the answering papers served upon all parties to the case.
- Step 3: Obtain affidavits of service.
- Step 4: Submit the original answering papers, with original affidavits of service to the court. This is done at the time and place stated in the Notice of Motion or Order to Show Cause or on the adjourned date, if any.
- How do I start an Article 78 proceeding?
File a verified petition with notice of petition, or order to show cause 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 (Poor Person Order). The petition must include a copy of the agency’s final determination which the petitioner is appealing.
- How can I get a divorce?
If both you and your spouse want to get a divorce and you both agree about what will happen to your finances and property after the divorce, you can get and complete the papers for an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce package can be picked up in the Help Center, Room 116 or online at: Uncontested Divorce Forms | NYCOURTS.GOV. If you and your spouse do not have children under 21 years of age you could use the court’s Uncontested Divorce Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Program: Uncontested Divorce - DIY Forms | NY CourtHelp (nycourts.gov).
If your spouse does not want a divorce or disagrees with you about certain issues, your divorce will be contested. Instruction books and forms for contested divorces are available under the Forms section above.
The filing fees for a divorce include $210.00 for the index number and $125.00 for the note of issue. If you are filing a contested divorce the cost can go higher depending on how much motion practice will be involved.
- How can I get a Legal Separation?
To get a legal separation, the parties must draw up a written agreement specifying their intent to separate and the terms of their separation. There are NO preprinted forms for a separation agreement. The agreement is drawn up by the parties or an attorney. It is not valid unless it is signed and notarized by both parties. A separation agreement can be filed with the court by purchasing an index number ($210.00) in the County Clerk’s Office and submitting an original notarized copy of the agreement.
- How can I change my name?
New York City residents can use the New York City Civil Court Adult Name Change Petition Program - DIY Form - New York City Civil Court (nycourts.gov).
- How can I get a copy of my divorce?
Copies of divorces are obtained in the County Clerk’s Office, 60 Centre Street, Room 141B. Only the parties or their attorney may view the court file or obtain a copy of the divorce. Identification is required. The fee for a certified copy of the divorce is $8.00. For more information about obtain copies of divorces please refer to information from the County Clerk’s Office: Certified Copies | NYCOURTS.GOV.
- How do I correct/amend a birth certificate?
If you are 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 or visit their website at: Birth and Death Certificates Corrections - NYC Health. 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.
- How can I vacate a default judgment or lien?
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.
To vacate a default judgment in a consumer debt case you can use the courts Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Form Program: Vacate Default Judgment in a Consumer Debt Case - DIY Forms | NY CourtHelp (nycourts.gov).
- Where do I file a grievance against my attorney?
Each Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court has an Attorney Grievance Committee that will accept and investigate written complaints. If the lawyer’s office is located in Manhattan or The Bronx, a complainant should contact the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Judicial Department Attorney Grievance Committee. If the lawyer’s office is located in Brooklyn, Queens, or Staten Island, the complainant should contact the Second, Eleventh, and Thirteen Judicial Districts Attorney Grievance Committee.
- How do I stop an eviction or foreclosure?
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 Supreme Court in the county where the eviction or foreclosure is planned to take place. The litigant should bring a copy of the Sheriff’s Order of Eviction and the court order signed by the judge when seeking the order to show cause. 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.