Cross Complaint in California Superior Court–At A Glance

Court rules are amended frequently, sometimes without warning. SmartRules utilizes our extensive network of court resources to keep you constantly informed of the latest rules and requirements.

Note: California Codes of Civil Procedure have been amended since this blog was written. Please refer to SmartRules guides for up-to-date information. 

Use this At A Glance Guide to learn the California statewide rules of civil procedure applicable to cross-complaints.  For a more detailed treatment, including local rules and requirements, please see the California Superior Court SmartRules Guides:  Cross-Complaint.

Cross Complaints in California Superior Courts

Leave of Court

In some cases, it is necessary to obtain leave of court to file a cross complaint. For more information see the California Superior Court SmartRules Guides:  Motion for Leave to File Cross-Complaint, Opposition to Motion for Leave to File Cross-Complaint, and Reply in Support of Motion for Leave to File Cross-Compliant.

Filed by Any Defendant or Cross-Defendant

A cross-complaint can be filed by any defendant or cross-defendant. A cross-complainant may assert against plaintiff or cross-complainant any claims, regardless of whether those claims are related to the subject matter of plaintiff’s action. Claims against parties other than plaintiff or cross-complainant must relate to the subject matter or transaction alleged in plaintiff’s complaint. CCP § 428.10

When Mandatory

A cross-complaint is compulsory if the cross-complainant has a cause of action against the party who brought the original complaint or cross-complaint, that “arises out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences as the cause of action alleged by plaintiff in the complaint.” CCP § 426.30; CCP § 426.10

To qualify as a compulsory cross-complaint, the related cause of action must have existed at the time defendant/cross-complainant served its answer to the complaint. CCP § 426.30

Causes of action that qualify as compulsory cross-complaints are waived if not asserted. CCP § 426.30

Qualifications of and exceptions to the waiver rule are found at Code of Civil Procedure § 426 et seq.

Seek Leave of Court

A party may seek leave of court to assert an omitted cross-complaint at any time during the pendency of the action. CCP § 426.50

Additional Rules

A party may be joined as a cross-complainant or cross-defendant, if, had the cross-complaint been filed as an independent action, joinder of that party would have been permitted by the statutes governing joinder. CCP § 428.20

The counterclaim is abolished. Any cause of action that would previously have been asserted in a counterclaim must be asserted in a cross-complaint. CCP § 428.80


Timing requirements are in part based on the filing of the answer to the action. See SmartRules guides for detailed information on timing and deadlines.


The authorities cited in this At A Glance Guide are current as of the publication date. For authorities updated in real time, please see the SmartRules Guide for the litigation document you are drafting.

litigation guides

Preview of California Superior Court Cross Complaint Guide


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