The judicial system of Pennsylvania embraces the idea that access to the Courts is a fundamental right of all Pennsylvanians.
Through its long history, the judicial system in Pennsylvania has been, and continues to be, committed to dispensing justice for all Pennsylvanians. Some litigants, for any number of reasons, may find it necessary to represent themselves pro se before the Court.
Nothing on these pages should be construed as legal advice, and should not be cited as legal authority.
I can't afford to pay the filing fees
Costs to record, or “file” documents such as the complaint, vary from the type of document, or pleading, to the county in which you begin your case. Some court filing costs may be in the hundreds of dollars. If you cannot afford to pay these fees to the court, you will need to complete the form below entitled, In Forma Pauperis, a Latin term, referring to someone who cannot pay. You will be asked for your income and expense statements. The court may require that you appear in person for a hearing or a judge may decide based upon the information you provide on the In Forma Pauperis form. Instructions are included in the form. Once completed, take the IFP form to the appropriate records office in your county courthouse. This office is called the Prothonotary or Office of Judicial Records.
Self-represented litigants are held to the same standards as attorneys admitted to the bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Representing yourself does not exempt you from understanding and following statewide and local Rules of Court.
For your protection, be sure to verify you have met all up-to-date requirements by contacting your local county court administration.
Public Access Policy Notice
As a participant in your court case, you must follow the rules regarding confidential information, documents and filings. Please read the policy here: http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Supreme/out/477jad-attach1.pdf?cb=1
Consider watching the video that explains the policy: http://www.pacourts.us/public-records/public-records-videos
Self-representation information and forms
Before you initiate a custody action, make sure you know the appropriate county court to begin the action.
For divorce procedings, begin by reading the Divorce Procedure to choose the correct forms for your case.
Protection from Abuse
Contact your county court administrator for information on how to proceed with a PFA.
To file a claim for child support you will need to contact your county domestic relations office. More information is available from the Department of Public Welfare.