Frequently Asked Questions


1.) Where do I park when coming to your office?
There are parking places along Main Street and the other streets surrounding the Courthouse. Tier garages are located nearby. A parking lot can be reached one block east of the courthouse. A public lot is also within walking distance along Main St. Use this map for directions to find either the Government Center, Courthouse, or parking.
2.) How do I find an attorney for my case?
There is an attorney listing to be found on the contacts page of this web page. Additionally, these listings are available free of charge from the Prothonotary office. We are unable to recommend any one particular type of attorney, however the listing is set up to show the specialties of law that each attorney prefers. The Butler and North Pittsburgh telephone books have attorneys listed in the yellow pages. Public Defenders are not assigned to civil cases.

3.) What is a "Filing?"


A filing is a document that you bring to our office to be entered as PART OF an official record or case. The document is officially filed only after it is time stamped into our office.


4.) What is a "Praecipe?"


A Praecipe is a paper or a writ that commands something be done, or to show why something has not been done.

5.) What is the "Caption?"


The caption is the heading on a legal document which includes the name of the plaintiff, the name of the defendant, and the court number that is given when the case is filed. The plaintiff is the person who brings the suit against someone. This person can also be called a petitioner or the complainant. The defendant is the person who is being called upon to respond to the plaintiff’s complaint.
6.) What do I need to bring to obtain a passport?
 Four things are required when you come to the office with your passport application:
1. Your certified birth certificate from the state in which you were born.
It must have a raised seal;
2. Your driver license;
3. Two identical passport photos; and
4. Your checkbook. We require two separate checks or money orders, however one fee can be given in cash. More information can be found
HERE for passport applications.
7.) What is the difference between a discontinuance and a satisfaction?
A discontinuance is a proceeding that takes place when the plaintiff and/or their attorney voluntarily put an end to the case. A satisfaction is when an end is put to a case where some type of debt is being released Whether a case is being discontinued or satisfied, we require that the attorney for the plaintiff send in the Praecipe. The signature does not need to be notarized for a discontinuance, but it must be notarized when the case is being satisfied. If there is no attorney for a business, we must have notarized signatures of the President or the Vice President on one line and the Secretary or the Treasurer on the second line. Consult with us if that is a problem for you.
8.) Do Arbitration awards need to be notarized when satisfied?
Arbitration awards do need to have notarized signatures and be satisfied. Send a Praecipe for Satisfaction with your check for $10.00.
9.) Where can I obtain 'No Lien' forms?
Most attorneys have these forms. You may also look on the web for legal forms or ask at office products stores. Google "No lien legal forms".
10.) Are there forms for appeals of license suspension?
There are no forms in Butler County on which to appeal a license suspension. You have the choice to contact an attorney to have this paperwork drawn up for you. If you decide that you want to do the filing yourself, you should make reference to law books in the Law Library in order to be able to timely present paperwork that is satisfactory to the Court. Please note again that neither the law librarian nor the staff of our office is permitted to help you with this paperwork. The letter that you receive in the mail from Penn Dot may lead you to believe that forms are available and/or that there is no filing fee, but this is not the case in Butler County.
11.) Do I have to come in person to file a motion?
Notice of all motions must be given to the other side within five days of presentation. If you decide to have us take your motion to motion court for you, only uncontested (where the other side agrees to the motion being granted) motions can be taken by the Prothonotary.
Contested (where the other side does not agree to the granting of this motion) motions must be presented by you after you have given five working days notice to the person or attorney on the other side.
If you send in an uncontested motion to our office, we will see that it is taken to the proper place.
The Judge will hear uncontested motions first, then contested motions. Motions from the floor are taken last. (Bring all of your paperwork and your driver license.)
12.) What if I have a motion for the specific judge that has been assigned to my case?
Each judge has a day designated in their schedule to hear Civil Court motions on their own cases. In general,
Tuesday is Judge Doerr in Courtroom 1 at 1:30 PM
Wednesday is Judge Horan in Courtroom 4 at 9:00 AM
Thursday is Judge Yeager in Courtroom 3 at 9:00 AM
Thursday is Judge Streib in Courtroom 1 at 1:30 PM
Before you make a long drive to our Courthouse, you may want to check with Court Administration (724.284.5200) to see if your required judge is present on the day you have in mind. Judges hear uncontested motions first and contested motions second. Each courtroom has a tip staff assigned to help you if you are not familiar with this procedure.
13.) What is In Forma Pauperis? How can I obtain this form?
In Forma Pauperis is the form you use when your financial situation makes it impossible for you to pay the necessary fees to the court. If this petition is granted, the fees are placed on Butler County. The form can be found on the forms page of the Prothonotary website. You must be very detailed when reporting each of your expenses and information about your income. Bring or mail your Petition for In Forma Pauperis to our office with a suggested order of court for the judge to sign granting that the costs be placed on Butler County.
14.) What is the turn-around time for a divorce from filing until the decree is issued?
This answer will vary depending on the time between when the complaint was filed and the time of the decree. The turn around time on the decree itself, in general is expected to be returned by a judge with their signature within 7 to 14 days, but it is at the discretion of that particular judge and is not a guaranteed timeframe. It could be delayed by vacation, illness, problem with paperwork or other reasons.
15.) How do I obtain a certified copy of my divorce decree and/or change of name to former name?
Other than the free original sealed copy which goes to the Plaintiff, certified copies of your divorce decrees, marital settlement agreement, and/or change of name to a former name may be obtained by calling the office to order it. It will be ready for you when you come in for it. There is a $6.00 fee for providing each of these. If your Decree has an Agreement attached, there is an additional fee of $6.00. (Total is $12.00 for both.)
We can only provide certified copies of Butler County divorces. Decrees may also be obtained by writing and requesting it. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope and a check for $6.00 or $12.00, if there is an agreement, too. On occasion, persons walk in to our office to request a certified copy. It takes at least 20 minutes to provide this service for you. It is helpful if you know the names that were on the decree as well as the year the divorce was granted.
Former name forms can be found on the forms page of the Prothonotary website. The change to a former name may be applied for any time after your Complaint in Divorce is filed in Butler County.
16.) What if I can't pay my Protection From Abuse Costs in the allotted time?
It is unwise to let Protection From Abuse Costs go without contacting us concerning a payment schedule. These records are reviewed periodically and a collection procedure is set up. If the person does not pay their costs faithfully, a bench warrant is issued by the judge and the person is brought by sheriff’s deputies to the courtroom and may be detained in the Butler County Prison until such time as a judge can hear the case.
17.) Will I automatically be divorced in two years after filing for a divorce?
Divorces are not automatically granted. You must follow the required steps. If you do not complete the required paperwork, the divorce complaint will not be finalized. The case may become inactive if, after two years, nothing has been pursued.
18.) How many copies should I send with any original filing?
Butler County only requires one original filing of any pleading. We will time stamp and return extra copies if you prefer this. We will also certify copies for you if you include the copies in your packet. We take the certified copies to the sheriff for service if you include the sheriff’s direction card and their required checks. There are occasional times when more than one copy of a filing is necessary, for example we require two (2) extra copies for a Complaint for Custody, 1 extra copy for an appeal to higher court and some others.

19.) Do you have naturalization records?


Yes. Naturalization records can be found well into the early years of the 1800s. Petitions for naturalization often, but not always, contain the name of the ship that brought your person to the United States as well as pictures and signatures of the petitioner. Our office is open to the public for you to do your research during regular working hours which are listed on the Prothonotary home page.

20.) Where do I find forms to file a Divorce?


We recommend that you talk to an attorney to have her/him handle the case for you. They are highly qualified to discuss issues you may not have considered. We do not recommend that you use forms that you take from the Web or purchase at a book store because this paperwork may not apply to what is required in Butler County. If you decide that you want to do the filing yourself, you should make reference to law books in the Law Library in order to be able to timely present paperwork that is satisfactory to the Court. Note that neither the law librarian nor the staff of our office is permitted to help you with this paperwork.

21.) What do I need to file a Judgment?


You will need a Praecipe for Judgment and must show the services (delivery to the other side) that were completed as well as the ten-day notice. The amount of the judgment is taken from the amount in the complaint or less than that amount. Do not include court costs in the costs of the judgment. We will keep the original filing and appreciate if you send two stamped envelopes with the correct address on them. We will time stamp and return copies of the Praecipe to you. We will also take the certified copies to the sheriff for service if you include the Sheriff’s checks and their direction cards.
22.) How do I obtain a Visa to go outside the country?
For information on obtaining a Visa visit the Department of State website.
23.) Do I obtain a marriage license in your office?
No, you must contact the Register of Wills/Clerk of the Orphans' Court for this. If you have been divorced you must have a certified copy of your decree, which can be obtained in our office, in order to proceed with the application. If you have changed your name after a divorce, those certified forms are obtained in our office, too.
24.) How do I appeal a District Justice Decision?
These forms can be obtained at our office. You are able to purchase these forms by going to our "forms" page. There you will find a link to the publisher. You may order 1 copy to 500+ copies from them.
25.) Do you handle child support issues in your office?
No, our family court includes divorce, custody and protection from abuse. Child support is handled through Domestic Relations.
26.) “Could you help me and tell me the next step for this (whatever you are attempting to do ) process?”
We are not permitted to tell you the next step for any process that you are attempting to do for yourself. We always recommend that you seek the legal advice of an attorney. You can also do your own research in the Law Library.
27.) What is a short certificate and can I get one in your office?
This form has to do with an estate. You can get information from the Register of Wills/Clerk of Orphans' Court website.
28.) Can I attach a renter’s wages if they don’t pay their rent?
In certain cases, but only after you have had a hearing before a district justice and he/she has made a judgment against your renter.
The forms required by the Supreme Court as well as the instructions are available on our Forms page.
29.) What do I need to start a new business or fictitious name?
A 'New Business Pack' is available through the Butler Chamber of Commerce. If you would like to order this pack via the internet, go to our "contacts" page and click on the link.To register your business and obtain a fictitious name, call 717-787-1057 or online at the PA State Department.
30.) What do I need to renew my notary?
You must contact your state senator to get the forms. When you receive your bond, visit Recorder of Deeds Office to file your bond. Their fee is $35.50. When that is completed, you are to come to our office to record your signature. Once it is recorded in our office, we will be able to validate it if there is ever a question regarding your status or signature. Prothonotary fee is $5.00.
31.) What is the difference between a "change to former name after a divorce" and an official name change?
A change to a former name can be completed here after a divorce is entered and filed or after a divorce decree is issued in Butler County. You can file these yourself or have your attorney take care of it for you. The Prothonotary fee is $19.00. These must be completed in the county where the divorce was filed. Forms are available on the Prothonotary "Forms" page. We will notarize your signature if you bring in your form. If you mail your form, you must have your signatures notarized before we are able to accept them.
An official name change must follow specific guidelines and is filed by an attorney. There are no Butler County forms developed for a person to do these themselves. There are specific instructions to follow in a timely manner. If a person chooses to do this them self, they must go to the law library on the Lower Level and study the requirements. The fee is $134.50.
32.) Does your office have the newest information regarding the filing of Secure Transactions and UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) filings and Commonwealth Liens?
The correct information can be found at the PA State Department
or by calling 717-787-1057.