It's important to note that any case that is heard in a court of law is received as a petition first.

Filing a petition with a court can be a confusing and overwhelming process if you're unsure of the requirements. However, from filing a divorce petition to filing a bankruptcy petition, you can find the forms you need and obtain a court date in several hours. You'll have to do some research and legwork, but this guide will give you a general overview and point you in the right direction.

To petition the court, you must obtain the appropriate form and request a court date or hearing. By filing the form, you are "petitioning" the court to hear the case. The word petition is used as a description of the process and only implies filing a form for a judge to review a case or make a ruling on a matter, such as opening adoption records or requesting spousal support.

Go to the clerk office at the courthouse and request the form you need. You can also download legal documents online. Visit the website for the Superior Court in your state. Form publication titles and numbers vary by state, but all are available online or at the courthouse for free. Forms are available online so they can be brought to the courthouse already complete, but this is not compulsory. If you obtain the forms at the courthouse, bring a clipboard so you can complete them while you wait in line. (The forms must be completed in their entirety.) Pay a nominal fee to obtain additional copies. Again, you can also download and print additional copies as required at home or at a local library.

Provide a Social Security card and photo ID. You must provide proof of identity to file any petition with a court or to request a trial.

Make copies of the form and file the petition. Generally, you're required to provide three copies of any form when filing a petition. You must sign each of the three copies and present them to the court on the day you file the petition. Each will be stamped with a case number, a trial date or hearing date, and the court where the case will be heard.

Pay the appropriate filing fees. You can pay by check, money order, credit card and, in some cases, cash.

Review similar orders to prepare your case before the judge. You may also submit evidence, if necessary, as well as other documents, such as a credit counseling certificate for a bankruptcy petition, date of separation for a divorce petition or statement of income for a spousal support petition.