A declaratory judgment is a judgment rendered by a judge without ordering any party to pay damages or make restitution. It is a declaration by the court of whether the plaintiff or defendant set forth the winning argument, but neither party is expected to act further in accordance with the judge. A petition for a declaratory judgment begins with an identification of the parties. The petition must clearly articulate the relevant facts and set forth all allegations against the defendant. Relevant documents also must be filed with the petition.
Understand the definition of a declaratory judgment. A party seeking declaratory judgment will not receive a monetary award, even if it prevails at the hearing. The purpose of a declaratory judgment is to declare the rights or legal obligations of a party. The judgment is binding on the parties and reviewable in the state or federal appeals process. Many parties choose to seek declaratory judgments to avoid uncertainty and bring clarity on the likelihood of success at a subsequent trial for monetary damages.
Begin the petition with a caption. The caption contains all identifying information relevant to the case. It states the full legal identity of the plaintiff and defendants, separated by a "v." The caption also must state the name of the court in which the petition is filed. Beneath the petition, the plaintiff should summarize the purpose of the document in a short paragraph. This paragraph should state that the petition is seeking declaratory relief, and that plaintiff seeks a judgment in his favor.
List the applicable law that the court should review in considering the petition for declaratory relief. This will depend upon the specific cause of action the plaintiff is petitioning over with the defendant. For example, if the plaintiff is contending that the defendant violated a statute, the petition should cite the statute and explain why it applies. In addition, this section should attest that the defendant was properly served in accordance with state law. The petition should set forth that venue is appropriate based upon the parties' dwelling place.
Set forth the facts of the case, including specific information about how the defendant has breached a legal duty. If the petition is alleging that the defendant has violated a statute, identify all parts of the statute and how the defendant violated each section. Also, if the plaintiff made any effort to demand the defendant cease his activity, the court should be made aware of this fact.
Include a prayer for relief at the conclusion of the petition. The prayer for relief is a short section succinctly stating what the plaintiff is seeking. It should state that the plaintiff is seeking declaratory relief and what statutes or laws apply. Be sure to sign the petition and include contact information.
Stephanie Reid has been writing professionally since 2007, with work published in the Virginia Bar Association's "Family Law Quarterly" and the "Whittier Journal of Child and Family Advocacy." She received her Juris Doctor from Regent University and her Bachelor of Arts in French and child development from Florida State University. Reid is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Maryland.