A written statement that begins a civil lawsuit, in which the plaintiff details the claims against the defendant.

Source: U.S. Courts

(See Grievance.)


The formal written document filed in a court whereby the complainant sets forth the names of the parties, the allegations, and the request for relief sought. Sometimes called the initial pleading or petition.

Source: Office of Child Support Enforcement.

Written document filed in court in which the person initiating the action names the persons, allegations, and relief sought.

Source: Office of Child Support Enforcement

In civil cases, a written statement filed by the plaintiff that starts a case. Says what the plaintiff thinks the defendant did and asks the court for help. Also called the "initial pleading " or "petition." A complaint is also used to start a criminal case.

Source: California Courts.