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To amend is to make a change by adding, subtracting, or substituting. For example, one can amend a statute, a contract, the United States Constitution, or a pleading filed in a lawsuit. Generally, procedures dictate the way in which one amends a specific item. For instance, Article V of the Constitution of the United States provides the procedures for amending the Constitution.

In the Federal Rules of Civil ProcedureRule 15 provides ways in which a pleading may be amended. The purpose of Rule 15 is to prevent parties from being bound by their first formulation of a pleading. They may have made a mistake, or they may have obtained more information such that their initial pleading may need to be changed. Rule 15(a)(1) permits a party to amend his pleading during a certain period of time. Afterwards, unless the opposing party consents, the trial court has discretion whether to allow the amendment. Courts consider various factors in deciding whether to allow the amendment. For these factors, see Beeck v. Aquaslide ‘N’ Dive Corp

See also amended complaint and amended pleading.

[Last updated in June of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]