A legal petition is used to make a formal request to the court. Prior to submitting your final petition to the Clerk of the Court, review your jurisdiction’s rules regarding the specific formatting and content requirements for your case. They may vary slightly based on the court that is reviewing your petition and the type of case you are filing. These rules, listing the formatting requirements, can be found at the Clerk’s office, through public libraries and on some courts’ websites.
Create a caption at the top of the document. The caption on a petition lists the name of the plaintiff, name of the defendant, case number and the full name of the court that is hearing the case.
Give your petition a descriptive name. Underneath your caption, list the name of your petition, describing its purpose. Examples of simple yet descriptive petition names include “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage,” “Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus,” or “Petition for Rule to Show Cause.”
Number each item that you discuss. In the body of your petition, number each paragraph. This is important because it will allow the defendant or judge to identify provisions of your petition quickly and accurately.
Make a signature block. At the end of the petition, include a line for the petitioner or her legal representative to sign, and type her full name underneath. Beside it, provide a line for the date. If the petitioner has an official title, include it below her name.
List the petitioner’s contact information. Under the signature block, provide the mailing address, fax number and email address for the petitioner or her legal representative.
Include page numbers. Except for page one, number each page of your petition on the bottom of each page.
Use a standard, easy-to read font. Fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial and Cambria are all acceptable to use on a legal petition.
- "Drafting Legal Documents: Principles and Practices;" Barbara Child; 1992
- Nolo.com: Petitions
Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.