The Civil Division assists parties with cases involving: recovery of money or property in non-contract civil disputes or contract enforcement; civil rights, and landlord tenant actions. Petitions to Change Name and various writs are also handled by the Civil Division.
A civil matter may involve a lawsuit in which one party sues another to recover money or property, to enforce a contract or an obligation, to collect damages for injury or to protect a civil right. Some examples of civil cases include claims for personal injuries arising from automobile accidents, alleged wrongful termination from employment, evictions from a house or commercial building or disputes regarding the use of an easement.
Civil lawsuits (other than family, juvenile, probate, unlawful detainer, and civil harassment cases) can generally be divided into three categories depending on how much money is involved:
|When the dollar amount is...||This case is usually called a...|
|Under $10,000||Small Claims case|
|Between $0 and $25,000||Limited Jurisdiction Civil case|
|Over $25,000||Unlimited Jurisdiction Civil case|
Small claims court is a special court where disputes are resolved quickly and inexpensively. In small claims court, the rules are simplified and the hearing is informal. Attorneys are generally not allowed.
In general, claims are limited to disputes up to $5,000. However, natural persons (individuals) can claim up to $10,000.
View the Small Claims Page for Additional Information »
A general civil case that involves a lawsuit that amounts to $25,000 or less to recover money or property, enforce a contract, collect damages for injury, or to protect some civil right. For further information, visit the California Courts' Self-Help page on Cases for $25,000 or less.
A general civil case that involves a lawsuit for amounts over $25,000 to recover money or property, enforce a contract, collect damages for injury, or to protect some civil right. For further information, visit the California Courts' Self-Help page on Cases for Over $25,000.
Landlord/Tenant Evictions (Unlawful Detainer)
Keeping possession of real property without a right, such as after a lease has expired, after being served with a notice to quit (vacate, leave) for non-payment of rent or other breach of lease, or being a "squatter" on the property. Such possession entitles the owner to file a lawsuit for "unlawful detainer," asking for possession by court order, unpaid rent and damages. A legal action to evict a tenant or other occupier of real property in possession, without a legal right, to declare a breach of lease, and/or a judgment for repossession, as well as unpaid rent and other damages. Such lawsuits have priority over most legal cases and therefore will be calendared for trial promptly.
Other types of legal disputes between landlords and tenants are generally handled in small claims court, such as disputes regarding the return of a security deposit.
For additional information, see the California Courts' Self-Help pages on Eviction cases and Guide to security deposits.
Abuse & Harassment (Restraining Orders)
There are different types of civil restraining orders, each with their own eligibility requirements and steps to obtain. See the Restraining Order page for additional information.
In order to get a court order changing your name or a child's name, you must file a petition in the Superior Court in the county where you live. You can then use the court order to change the birth certificate, passport, social security card, driver's license, and other documents.
After you file your petition to change the name, you will get a court hearing. Before your hearing, you will have to post a legal notice in a newspaper of general circulation for four consecutive (in a row) weeks, one day per week.
If you are trying to change the name of your child, you will also have to personally serve the other parent at least 30 days prior to the hearing so that he or she has the opportunity to come to court if he or she doesn't agree. If both parents agree, they both sign the petition to change their child's name.
See the California Courts' Self-Help page Change your name in California for additional information.
Frequently Asked Questions
A civil case is a lawsuit in which one party sues another party. Civil matters include small claims, civil matters, conservatorships, probate, family law, adoptions, and juvenile compromises.
A civil case can be filed by a party to:
- Enforce a contract or agreement
- Collect damages to their person or property
- Recover money or property
- Protect a civil right
Generally, civil lawsuits are divided into three categories which is based on the amount of money involved in the lawsuit. An example of cases with are generally excluded from this are unlawful detainer, juvenile, civil harassment, probate and family matters. When the dollar amount is under $10,000 it is usually referred to as a Small Claims case. When the dollar amount is less than or equal to $25,000 it is referred to a limited jurisdiction civil case. When the dollar amount exceeds $25,000 it is referred to as an unlimited jurisdiction civil case.
The Self-Help attorneys are available to provide assistance. Please contact our Self-Help center for more information.
Ensure all documents are signed, dated, organized and stapled. The clerk cannot accept copies which are not organized and stapled.
- You will need to file with the clerk the original set off documents that are organized, two-hole punched, and stapled, along with the appropriate number of copies.
- Check the Statewide Civil Fee Schedule to be sure you have included the proper filing fees or submit a Request to Waive Court Fees.
Yes, you can file documents via fax in certain Civil cases. Please see the Civil, Probate, & Family Law Fax Filing page for information and instructions.
See the Statewide Civil Fee Schedule for a list of filing fees applicable to civil filings.
Fee Waiver: Litigants meeting statutory income limitations may be eligible for a waiver of court fees and costs. A Request to Waive Court Fees must be filed with the first documents the litigant presents for filing in a case. The Request is reviewed by a judge and a determination is made as to whether the litigant is eligible for the waiver. A clerk may also grant a fee waiver based on certain information. Please review the California Court's Self-Help page on asking for a fee waiver for additional information.
Yes, please see the Language Access Services page for more information on language assistance.
You can request copies through the clerk's office; either online, in person, or by mail. For more information and to submit a request online, visit the Records & Information page.
The Civil Law and Motion calendar is generally heard each Tuesday in Department 2. View the Law & Motion Calendars page for additional information.
Requests for continuances of law and motion matters shall be made by written stipulation of the parties or counsel along with the applicable filing fee. The stipulation, order and continuance fee must be received and signed by the court prior the date and time for the hearing. Upon review by the Court, the matter may be ordered dropped from calendar.
If the matter has settled, parties should contact the court to advise the case has settled and then follow up with the mandatory Judicial Council form Notice of Settlement of Entire Case [form CM-200]. Upon review by the Court, the matter may be ordered dropped from calendar.
Non-confidential matters can be found on the calendars available on the Court's Case Index & Calendar Portal. Once on the Case Index & Calendar Portal, you can search for your case by case number or by name and can view a list of hearings. You can also view weekly and daily court calendars which will show a list of all non-confidential cases.
See the Remote Appearances page for information on remote appearances. Zoom and CourtCall (telephonic) appearances are permitted for certain circumstances in Civil cases.
You may submit handwritten forms as long as they are printed clearly and legibly in blue or black ink.