Court Self-Help & Law Resource Center
Notice: The Self-Help Center will be closing for the day at 12:00pm Wednesday, 11/23/22. This will be INSTEAD of our normally scheduled closure on the last Wednesday of the month.
Please note: No one in the Court Self-Help Center is allowed to give legal advice.
The Court Self-Help Center (CSHC) is a free resource for the public to research rules and law, and obtain assistance from staff with basic procedures in some civil matters.
The Court Self-Help Center will be closed at noon on the last Wednesday of every month. The Center will not reopen until 9 am the following day.
Email us to schedule an appointment, either in person or via Zoom. Walk-ins are always welcome.
The York County Self-Help Center was established and is operated and funded by the Administrative Office of York County Courts (AOYCC). The York County Bar Foundation and State Justice Institute provided $10,000 matching grant funds for the establishment of the Self-Help Center.
- What can and can’t the CSHC staff do?
CSHC Staff are not Lawyers and are limited in how much help they can provide
CSHC can: Explain basic process for some civil cases, print copies, search existing cases filed with the Prothonotary's Office, provide forms and packets to visitors for a fee, and provide free access to legal research tools
CSHC cannot: Give legal advice, do legal research on your behalf, recommend specific law offices, interpret court orders, write/scribe/translate forms, create custom paperwork, assist with non-Prothonotary forms, file/serve/mail forms for you, contact the Judge/hearing officer in your case, advise you whether a process is appropriate
- What if I can’t afford an Attorney?
You may be able to find assistance for legal aid or find a low-cost consultation with an attorney:
Mid Penn Legal Services
29 N Queen Street
York, PA 17401
Attorney Connection/Modest Means
- If I choose to proceed without an attorney, where can I get forms?
Most offices provide forms for filings through their office on their respective website and for those who come in person. The CSHC has some forms and packets on our Forms page, free to download. You may also need to come to the Judicial Center in person to obtain forms for specific cases, like Protection Orders.
If you cannot find forms or instructions through any of the above places, it may be an issue that requires a custom/specific petition beyond what any office can provide; we strongly recommend speaking to a lawyer if that is the case.
- How do I know where to file/the cost of filing?
Each office in the Judicial Center handles specific case types and has their own fee schedule. You can call the office to inquire about their fees, or look on their website for a fee schedule. In general:
- Prothonotary: Custody, Divorce, Civil filings
- Clerk of Courts: Criminal, Dependency, Emancipation
- Domestic Relations: Child Support
- Register of Wills/Orphans Court: Guardianship, Marriage Licenses, Adoptions, Estates
- How do I find out what some of the words in the forms mean?
The packets CSHC provides come with detailed step-by-step instructions, many of which include a list of definitions. For other words you do not understand, we recommend doing research on PA Law Help, or obtaining a consultation with a lawyer.
- What do I bring to the courthouse to file?
For most filings, you will need the full, legal names of the people you are filing against; the complete mailing and/or physical addresses of everyone involved in the case; a valid ID in case a form must be notarized; and the ability to pay a filing fee either in cash, by credit card, or by money order.
If you plan on asking for filing fees to be waived, you must have physical copies of proof of all forms of household income, including pay stubs, benefits statements, and any existing orders for child/spousal support for all members of your household.
If you are filing an appeal of a case at the Magistrate (such as an eviction), you must have all pages of the transcript in order to file. Similarly, if you are appealing a suspension of a driver's license/vehicle registration, you need all pages of the Notice of Suspension from the PA Department of Transportation (PennDOT).
If E-Filing, you will need to know your email address and password to log in on our public computer, and have a credit/debit card to pay filing fees.
- How do I E-file documents with the Prothonotary?
The York County Civil Court Electronic Filing System is the website for e-filing forms. You must create an account, confirm account creation via email, and then upload your documents under the correct category on the website.
CSHC Staff can assist with this process in-office or via Zoom call during our normal office hours.
- How do I get a Protection Order?
You must come to the Judicial Center in person in order to obtain paperwork for a Protection Order. There is a PFA Office on the 1st floor run by advocates who may be able to assist you with filling out the forms and going over your options during normal business hours.
After hours, the Magisterial Judge on duty can hear cases for Emergency Protection. It is recommended you return to the courthouse on the following business day to speak to advocates about your options for continued protection.
- How do I know if I should file for Custody or Guardianship?
Since staff at the CSHC are not attorneys, we cannot advise you on whether your situation calls for filing for custody or guardianship of a minor. The York County Bar Association has created a video to discuss this topic via their program Legal Lines to explain the difference between these case types.
- Where can I watch the Custody Supervision Video?
Custody supervision video can be viewed at the following link Custody Supervision Video