Court procedure


Court rules contain procedural and other information and apply to every case. See the Court rules page for more information.

General information about civil lawsuits

The King County Law Library has a series of videos called Lawsuit Basics that include a number of helpful topics.

King County Bar Association's Preparing for Your Day in Court Handbook provides helpful information on the basics of a lawsuit, including a basic summons and complaint, and a checklist that outlines the steps in bringing a case to court.

An overview of basic steps in a lawsuit is available on the website. The Legal Information Institute also has information about litigation and the steps in a civil case.

Washington LawHelp has a guide to Getting Ready for a Court Hearing or Trial.

The Administrative Office of the Courts has several guides for:

They also have information about the Court of Appeals including an Appellate Case Processing Guide that is designed to assist litigants through the appellate process.

The law library sells a Start a Civil Lawsuit in Superior Court self-help kit with forms and instructions to start a civil lawsuit in Superior Court against a person. It does not cover procedures after the initial filing and is not intended for District Court. Kits can be purchased at the library or online and mailed out.

Free eBooks about court procedure

Represent Yourself in Court book cover

Free eBooks about small claims court, representing yourself in court, and other topics related to court procedure are available from Nolo Press -- one of the largest publishers of legal self-help books. This document shows you how to find and view the books.


Formatting court documents

When you give documents to a Washington state court, it is important to format the documents correctly. More information about how to properly format court documents is available from Washington LawHelp.

Serving documents

The King County Law Library has put together a video with instructions on service of process (initial service in a case).

There are written instructions and forms lists for service of process in family court matters, including personal service, service by publication, and service by mail available from the Clark County Clerk.

Additional instructions which may add helpful information are found on the King County Court Family Law Facilitator's website.

Washington LawHelp has forms and instructions for personal service in a family law case as well as forms and instructions to serve by mail or publication.

Washington LawHelp also has forms and instructions if you are involved in a case involving setting or changing child support and the children or either parent receives public assistance and you need to serve the state.

The State Court website has forms for a number of circumstances.

Responding to (answering) a lawsuit

Washington LawHelp has information and forms to answer a lawsuit for debt collection. The material is general enough to use in many other types of cases.

Washington LawHelp also has information and forms if you live out of state and were served with a complaint or petition filed in Washington State courts.

Superior Court Civil Rules 8 and 12 and District Court Civil Rules 8 and 12 talk about defenses, including affirmative defenses. Affirmative defenses need to be proven by the person who is claiming them. A successful affirmative defense can mean that the defendant has no liability, even if all of the allegations in the complaint are true.

The law library has additional information and forms that you can read or copy.

Discovery (collecting evidence)

The King County Law Library has a video about discovery which is part of the Civil Lawsuits Without Tears series on their website. 

Information and forms on Subpoenaing Witnesses and Documents are on the Washington LawHelp website.

Washington LawHelp has information about “Doing Discovery” in Family Law Cases: Interrogatories and Requests for Production. Interrogatories and requests for production are two ways to collect evidence.

The Law Library has many materials and example forms related to doing discovery.  

Submitting evidence

The King County Law Library has put together a video about evidence which is part of the “Civil Lawsuits Without Tears” series on their website. 

Some basic things to think about are covered in the Getting Ready for a Court Hearing or Trial list of tips from Washington LawHelp.

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges has a publication titled 10 Steps for Presenting Evidence in Court.

The Washington State Court Rules of Evidence are available on the State Courts website.

More information about evidence is available from the law library.

Requesting an ADA accomodation

If you have a disability you may request a reasonable accommodation to participate in a Clark County Court proceeding. Requests for accommodation for people with disabilities must meet all the requirements of General Court Rule 33.