Filing the Notice of Appeal

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The Notice of Appeal

A notice of appeal is the paper you file in the superior court where your case was decided to let the court and the other side know that you are appealing the court's decision.  Filing a notice of appeal begins the entire appeals process.

Deadline to file a notice of appeal

You can file a notice of appeal as soon as the order or judgment you want to appeal is signed by the superior court judge and stamped "Filed" by the court clerk. The judgment is "entered" when it is stamped "Filed." This is also called the "entry of judgment."

You MUST file your notice of appeal no later than the following deadlines:

  • For a limited civil case (a civil case involving an amount that is $25,000 or less), you must serve and file your notice of appeal on or before the earliest of:
    1. 30 days after either the trial court clerk or the other side mails you notice that the judgment has been entered in your case or a copy of the judgment stamped "Filed," or
    2. 90 days after the entry of the judgment.

  • For an unlimited civil case (such as a civil case involving an amount over $25,000 or a family law case), you must serve and file the notice of appeal on or before the earliest of:
    1. 60 days after either the trial court clerk or the other side serves you with notice that judgment has been entered in your case or a copy of the judgment stamped "Filed," or
    2. 180 days after the entry of the judgment.

    Make sure you meet your deadlines. You cannot ask for more time to file your notice of appeal. If your notice of appeal is late, your appeal will be dismissed.

    Is the deadline to file a notice of appeal ever extended?
    The time to file a notice of appeal is extended if there is a timely motion:

    • For a new trial,
    • To vacate (cancel) or set aside the judgment,
    • For judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or
    • To reconsider an appealable order.

    The deadline can also be extended if a public entity was the defendant in the trial court case and asks the trial court to take certain other actions.

    Because these types of motions and actions may result in a change to the judgment or order you may want to appeal, the time to file the notice of appeal is extended until after the court decides these motions or other requests. That way, you can see if the judgment or order was changed before you decide whether to appeal.

    If one of these motions or requests has been filed, carefully read rule 8.108 of the California Rules of Court (for unlimited civil case appeals, such as civil cases involving an amount over $25,000 or family law cases) or rule 8.823 of the California Rules of Court (for limited civil case appeals) to find out the deadline for filing a notice of appeal.

    How to file the Notice of Appeal

    Follow the steps below. Click on each topic for detailed instructions. 


    1. Prepare the Notice of Appeal

    Remember, you MUST serve AND file your notice of appeal no later than the deadline for your type of case.  You can prepare the Notice of Appeal on your own. Or, if you prefer, you can fill out one of these preprinted forms:

    • Notice of Appeal/Cross-Appeal (Limited Civil Case) (Form APP-102) if you are appealing a limited civil case (a civil case involving an amount that is $25,000 or less).
    • Notice of Appeal/Cross-Appeal (Unlimited Civil Case) (Form APP-002) if you are appealing an unlimited civil case (such as a civil case involving an amount over $25,000 or a family law case).

    2. Make at least 2 copies of your Notice of Appeal

    One copy will be for you; another copy will be for the other side.  The original is for the court.

    3. Serve your Notice of Appeal on the other side

    Serve the other side (the respondent) with a copy of your Notice of Appeal either in person or by mail. ("Serving" a document on a person means having the document delivered to that person in the proper legal way. There are 2 main ways to serve documents: (1) by mail and (2) by personal delivery. Click to find out more about serving papers.)

    • Read What Is Proof of Service? (Form APP-109-INFO) for information on serving documents in a limited civil case. This information will also help you if you are serving papers in an unlimited civil case.
    • Make sure your server serves a copy of the Notice of Appeal, not the original because the original is for the court.
    • Have your server prepare a Proof of Service and make a copy. In a limited civil case (for the superior court appellate division), your server can fill out a Proof of Service (Appellate Division) (Form APP-109). In an unlimited civil case (in the Court of Appeal), your server can fill out a Proof of Service (Court of Appeal) (Form APP-009). It is very important that the person doing the service prepare your Proof of Service correctly. The server must then give you the original and copy of the Proof of Service for you to file with the court.

    4. File your Notice of Appeal and Proof of Service with the court clerk (before the deadline to file your appeal!)

    Turn in the original of your Notice of Appeal and Proof of Service, plus a copy of each to the court clerk. The clerk will keep the original and return the copy to you, stamped "Filed."

    You will have to pay a filing fee to file the Notice of Appeal (except for appeals in juvenile or conservatorship cases).

    If you cannot afford the filing fee, you can ask the court to waive this fee:

    • In a limited civil case (a civil case involving an amount that is $25,000 or less): If you have a fee waiver from the superior court for the case you are appealing and that fee waiver has not ended (fee waivers automatically end 60 days after the judgment), your fees are already waived. Just include a copy of the fee waiver with the Notice of Appeal.
      If you did not get a fee waiver in your superior court case or you had a fee waiver but it has ended, you can apply to the appellate court for a fee waiver. If the appellate court grants your fee waiver, you will not have to pay the court fees or costs.
    • In an unlimited civil case (such as civil cases involving an amount over $25,000 or family law cases): You will have to apply to the appellate court for a fee waiver even if you have a fee waiver from the superior court. If the appellate court grants your fee waiver, you will not have to pay the court fees or costs.
    • Click to find out how to ask for a fee waiver.

    If you do not pay the filing fee or if your check bounces, the court will send you a notice that you have 15 days to pay the fee or have it waived. If you asked for a fee waiver but the court denied your application, you will also get a notice that you have 15 days to pay the fee. If you do not pay the fee (or ask for it to be waived if you haven't already been denied a fee waiver) within 15 days, the court may dismiss your appeal. If the court dismisses your appeal but you had a good reason why your payment was late, you can file a motion to reinstate the appeal. If the court grants the motion to reinstate the appeal, it will give you a specific time to make your payment.

    5. After you file your Notice of Appeal

    In most civil appeals, no later than 10 days after you file your Notice of Appeal, you must let the superior court know what documents and oral proceedings you want them to include in the record that will be sent to the appellate court. This is called "designating the record." In most civil appeals, the appellant must pay for both the record that is sent to the appellate court and for his or her copy of the record, and the respondent must pay for his or her copy of the record. You may have to deposit the estimated amount of these fees upfront. If you do this, you will get a refund for any unused portion of your deposit. Click to find out more about designating the record.

    For certain types of juvenile appeals (dependency and delinquency), what is included in the record is set by the rules of court, so you do not have to designate the record. In these cases, the record is also provided to you for free, so you do not have to worry about paying for the record.

    Getting Help and More Information

    For an appeal of a limited civil case (a civil case involving an amount that is $25,000 or less), read the Information on Appeal Procedures for Limited Civil Cases (Form APP-101-INFO).

    For an appeal of an unlimited civil case (such as a civil case involving an amount over $25,000 or a family law case), read the Information on Appeal Procedures for Unlimited Civil Cases (Form APP-001).

    For the law on civil appeals, read the California Code of Civil Procedure sections 901–914 and the California Rules of Court, especially Title 8 on Appellate Rules. Also, law libraries, self-help legal books, or research guides may be helpful. Click here to find resources to help you research the law.

    Most of the Court of Appeal districts have self-help manuals that give a lot of detail on the procedures and requirements for preparing, serving, and filing a notice of appeal. They also have samples for you to use to guide you. See below for more information.

    The Courts of Appeal and where to get help

    The 1st District Court of Appeal

    The 1st District Court of Appeal is in San Francisco and hears appeals in unlimited civil cases (such as civil cases involving an amount over $25,000 and family law cases) from trial courts in Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano, and Sonoma Counties.

    For help with an appeal, click on the 1st District Court of Appeal's practices and procedures page.

    The 2nd District Court of Appeal

    The 2nd District Court of Appeal is in Los Angeles and Ventura and hears appeals in unlimited civil cases from trial courts in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties.

    For help with an appeal, click on the 2nd District Court of Appeal's practices and procedures page, or for more information, click on the 2nd District's self-help resources page.

    The 3rd District Court of Appeal

    The 3rd District Court of Appeal is in Sacramento and hears appeals in unlimited civil cases from trial courts in Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo, and Yuba Counties.

    For help with an appeal, click for the 3rd District Court of Appeal's practices and procedures page.

    The 4th District Court of Appeal

    The 4th District Court of Appeal has 3 locations, in San Diego, Riverside, and Santa Ana. It hears appeals in unlimited civil cases from trial courts in San Diego, Imperial, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Inyo Counties.

    For help with an appeal, click for the 4th District Court of Appeal's practices and procedures page, or click for self-help resources (including a step-by-step guide of the appeals process).

    The 5th District Court of Appeal

    The 5th District Court of Appeal is in Fresno and hears appeals in unlimited civil cases from trial courts in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Stanislaus, Tulare, and Tuolumne Counties.

    For help with an appeal, click for the 5th District Court of Appeal's practices and procedures page, or click for self-help resources (including a step-by-step guide to the appeals process).

    The 6th District Court of Appeal

    The 6th District Court of Appeal is in San Jose and hears appeals in unlimited civil cases from trial courts in Santa Clara, San Benito, Santa Cruz, and Monterey Counties.

    For help with an appeal, click for the 6th District Court of Appeal's practices and procedures page.

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