Legal pleading forms are self-help versions of typical documents that can be filed with a court by parties to a lawsuit. Generally, pleadings are the complaints, answers, motions and other documents prepared by lawyers and filed with the court on behalf of clients in a court case, explains the American Bar Association.
Some courts provide pleading forms for litigants proceeding pro se, or without a lawyer, to help them conduct the case on their own. For example, the California court system offers a set of Judicial Council forms that help ensure litigants proceeding without a lawyer provide the information required by the court. Use of some of the forms is mandatory, while use of other forms is optional, explains the California courts.
Legal pleading forms are made available by third-party organizations as well, such as the Pro Se Family Law Pleadings set provided by the Pro Bono Center’s Family Law Representation Committee of the DC Bar. The forms offered by the DC Bar are free and designed for people without lawyers. They are suitable for cases involving divorce, child custody, paternity, child support or standby guardianship that are proceeding in the DC court system. Most legal pleadings forms are designed to meet the rules of a specific court system, so users must find versions for the court where the lawsuit they are involved in takes place.