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Where Court Forms are Filed

General Information

“Filing court forms or other papers” means giving the papers to a court clerk. They can be given to the clerk by mail or in person.

The form or other paper is considered "filed" only after the court clerk stamps it "Filed." Then, that paper becomes part of the record of the case. The papers are then called “File-stamped,” or “file endorsed.”

Court forms need to be filed in the right courthouse as decided by state laws and local court rules. Each courthouse has the authority to hear and decide cases of specific subject matter and venue.

For example, in Contra Costa County, one courthouse only hears family law cases, while another courthouse only handles small claims cases for disputes that started in a city which that courthouse serves.

Generally, the person who is starting the case has to learn which courthouse can and will handle the dispute. Once the first papers are filed, the respondent or defendant has to file all of his or her papers in the same courthouse.

  • To learn about Contra Costa’s court divisions by subject matter, click here.
  • To learn where the courthouses are located in Contra Costa County, click here.
NOTE: 
Often, you will have to pay money to file papers at court. You can call the clerk's office before you go to find out the fee, and how you can pay.
  • For information on filing fees in California, click here 
  • If you cannot afford the filing fees, there are forms, called "Fee Waiver" forms, you may file to ask if the judge will allow you to pay less or nothing at all, click here.



Specific Information for Contra Costa County Superior Court


Appeals

If the original case was heard in Martinez, you must file the appeal in Martinez.
If the original case was heard in a branch court, you must file the appeal in that branch court.

Civil Cases (Limited and Unlimited) 

All civil case documents are only filed in the Taylor Courthouse in Martinez.
Note: Limited Civil documents can be dropped off in the branch courts but they will not be filed there. They will be sent to Martinez to be filed.)

Civil Cases (Small Claims and Unlawful Detainer)

Small Claims and Unlawful Detainer documents are filed in the court serving the city where the dispute started. To learn which courthouse serves which cities, click here.

Criminal Law

Usually, the District Attorney will file all criminal case documents in the court serving the city where the violation occurred.

Family Law (including Domestic Violence Restraining Orders, Adoptions –
and Elder Abuse)

All family law cases, including Domestic Violence Restraining Orders and Adoptions – as well as Elder Abuse -- are filed in the Spinetta Family Law Center in Martinez.
Note: Some requests for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders may be filed in Pittsburg. To learn more, click here.

Juvenile Law

All juvenile case documents are filed only in the Taylor Courthouse in Martinez

Probate, Guardianship and Conservatorships

All Probate, Guardianship and Conservatorship documents are only filed in the Taylor Courthouse in Martinez.

Traffic

The traffic citation, or the courtesy notice sent to the traffic violator, will show which courthouse will be handling the case.