What is a “Pleading”?
The court record in any case consists of documents that are filed in the Court Clerk’s Office. Filed documents are usually called “pleadings”. Pleadings tell the court what the dispute is about, and what the parties want the court to do about it.
What does a pleading look like?
Pleadings all have the same format. At the top of the first page is the “caption”. The caption has a lot of information. It identifies the state, the county the case was filed in, the court, and the parties. It includes the case number. The caption is always the same for every pleading that is filed in the case, no matter who files it.
In a civil (CV) case, the parties are called the “Plaintiff” and the “Defendant”.
In a domestic (DM) case, the parties are called the “Petitioner” and the “Respondent”.
The person who files the first pleading in the case is called the “Plaintiff” or “Petitioner”. The other party is called the “Defendant” or “Respondent”. These designations never change throughout the case, no matter who files what pleading after that. Neither party has an advantage by being the Petitioner or Plaintiff.
The case number has a lot of information, too. In the example below, the case number tells you the case is a district court case (D), filed in Santa Fe County (0101), in a domestic matter (DM), in the year 2010, and was the 98765 case filed that year.
This is what a caption for a Notice of Hearing in a divorce case filed in Santa Fe County looks like:
STATE OF NEW MEXICO
COUNTY OF SANTA FE
FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT
CASE NO. D-0101-DM-2010-98765
NOTICE OF HEARING
How do you file a pleading?
You take your pleading to the Court Clerk’s Office. Bring enough copies for yourself and all the other parties. Ask to have the pleading filed, and the copies endorsed (stamped). The clerk will file the original and put it in the court file. They will stamp the copies and return them to you.
There is no fee to file pleadings, except the Petition or Complaint that opens a case.
The information on this website is not intended as legal advice, and does not substitute for seeking independent legal advice regarding the handling of a lawsuit or related legal matters.