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Filing an Appearance

What Does it Mean?

Filing an appearance is the next step for the respondent to a civil court case to take after receiving a notice of summons. If you received a notice about filing an appearance, this means someone (the petitioner) has started a lawsuit against you.

An appearance tells the court if you'll be represented by an attorney for the case. If you do not have an attorney, you must represent yourself (pro se).

Things You Should Know

  • Once you have received a notice of summons or a notice of petition/motion, you will have 30 DAYS to file your appearance
  • You can can file your appearance electronically on the Clerk of Court's website here
  • The filing fee for an appearance for a new case may vary, but is typically $250 for family law cases in Cook County. If you can't afford to pay the filing fee, you may be able to qualify for a fee waiver
  • If you don't plan on showing up to court, there is no penalty for not filing an appearance

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