Cases for $25,000 or Less

The information in this section is for limited civil cases, where the amount in dispute is $25,000 or less. Make sure you read the Problems With Money Basics section so that you know what kind of case you want to file or has been filed against you.

READ FIRST: Any court case is complicated and you must follow the Code of Civil Procedure and the California Rules of Court, as well as your court’s local rules. The information provided in these pages does not take the place of the Code of Civil Procedure or Rules of Court. If you are representing yourself, you will be held to the same standard as a lawyer — to know and follow the code and the rules of civil court cases. You may find this glossary of basic civil law terms helpful.

While someone representing himself or herself may be able to successfully handle certain parts of a case without a lawyer, other parts, like discovery, motions, and jury trial preparation, generally require the expertise of a trained lawyer. Click to find a lawyer. Your court's self-help center may also be able to give you some limited information.

You can also get the help of a limited-scope lawyer, which means that the lawyer helps you as a coach or advisor, and you still represent yourself, or you can hire the lawyer to handle only certain parts of your case that are too complicated for you to do yourself. To find out more about limited-scope representation, and get help finding a limited-scope lawyer, read about Limited-Scope Representation.

Click on a topic below to learn more:

Suing Someone
Find out hot to prepare for, and start, a civil case.

Being Sued
Learn about your options when you are sued in a civil court case.

Before the Trial
Get information about what happens before a trial. Learn about case management conferences, and gathering and preparing your evidence.

Prepare for Trial
Find out what steps to take to prepare for your trial.

The Trial
Learn about the steps in a trial.

Collecting the Judgment
If you win your court case, you will need to collect on the judgment. Read this section to learn about your options.

Paying the Judgment
Read this section if you lose a civil case and have to pay money to the other side.

Resolving the Case Out of Court
Find out more about how you can resolve your dispute out of court, either before you or the other side files a case, or once a case is already under way.