Self-Help Family Law
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit the Court’s COVID-19 page for the latest information regarding our available services. You can access the page by clicking here.
For Self-Help Services’ hours of operation and services, please click here.
Announcing the Self-Help Portal and My Court Card!
The Self-Help Portal and My Court Card is a new on-line program offered by the Orange County Superior Court which will allow Self-Represented Litigants to easily register for Self-Help workshops; get procedural assistance, forms and tutorials for filling out family law forms and, with the help of the Self-Help Services staff, track the progress of their cases. Litigants can also sign up for free pre-filing document reviews. The program is being launched with a Dissolution module and additional modules will be added.
How Can Self-Help Services Assist Me?
Procedural Assistance and Document Review Services
Self-Help Services provides free assistance to individuals without an attorney. Our staff can provide legal procedural information, legal forms, answer most questions regarding processes and procedures, and review most completed forms. Assistance is provided for family law, child support matters involving the Department of Child Support Services, probate, civil, residential landlord/tenant, and criminal/traffic matters. Self-Help staff does not provide legal advice or attorney representation. Many of our services are provided in-person or remotely, depending on your legal matter and needs.
To learn how to obtain these services, click here.
Family Law at a Glance
Family Law handles cases in which people are:
- Starting a Dissolution of Marriage or Registered Domestic Partnership,
- Establishing Parentage,
- Determining child custody and visitation/parenting time issues,
- Establishing or enforcing child and spousal support, or
- Dealing with domestic violence or elder abuse issues.
Family Law matters for Orange County are filed at the Lamoreaux Justice Center, 341 The City Drive South, 7th Floor, Orange, CA 92683-4593.
The rules were created to have cases progress to judgment in a timely manner. The rules outline case milestones. Cases are reviewed electronically every 180 days until 500 days and not meeting these milestones will trigger cases being notified and/or being called in for status conferences or case resolution conferences. The milestones are:
- A proof of service of summons and petition should be filed within 60 days of case initiation;
- If no response has been filed, and the parties have not agreed on an extension of time to respond, a request to enter default should be submitted within 60 days after the date the response was due;
- The petitioner's preliminary declaration of disclosure should be served within 60 days of the filing of the petition; You can find the disclosure forms under Dissolution Step 3 on this page.
- When a default has been entered, a judgment should be submitted within 60 days of the entry of default;
- Whether a trial or other hearing date has been requested or scheduled; and
- When the parties have notified the court that they are actively negotiating or mediating their case, a written agreement for judgment is submitted within six months of the date the petition was filed, or a request for trial date is submitted.
If you receive a notice that you have not met case milestones you may want to visit one of the Court Self-Help Centers for free procedural assistance.
This protocol sets forth the provisions for the Court to manage family law cases by utilizing family centered case resolution pursuant to Family Law Code sections 2450(a) and 2451, California Rule of Court 5.83, and Local Rule 701.1.
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The Family Law Facilitator is an experienced Family Law attorney who works for the Superior Court of Orange County. They are restricted to assisting with issues relating to child and spousal support, and health insurance in existing cases.
The Family Law Facilitator is not your attorney. There is no attorney-client relationship between you and the Family Law Facilitator. The Facilitator is neutral and can help you as well as the other party (for example, your former spouse, the parent of your child, etc.). If you want help with your case strategy, you should consult with a private attorney for legal advice.
For more information, go to the Family Law Facilitator section of this website.
Rules are procedures the court requires parties to follow when they start a court case. The Superior Court of Orange County has local rules in addition to the state rules.
If you have a disability and need help, you will need to fill out a Request for Accommodations by Persons with Disabilities (MC-410) form and file it with the court as soon as possible, but at least five days before the hearing date. You can read about how to request an accommodation on the ADA section of this website.
SELECTING AN INTERPRETER
By law, in California all official court business must be conducted in English. When one of the parties or witnesses in a case does not speak English well, that person will need a court interpreter (who speaks English and the non-English speaker’s first language) so he or she can understand what is going on and talk to the judge.
For more information on how to request a free interpreter, please click here for the Court’s Language Access page.
If you chose to hire your own interpreter, make sure you get an experienced court interpreter, you should consider a professional interpreter who has passed the required examinations and has officially registered and been approved as a court interpreter by the Judicial Council of California.
There are 2 types of officially-approved court interpreters in California:
- Certified court interpreters: Only interpreters who pass the Court Interpreter Certification Examination and register with the Judicial Council are referred to as “certified" in these 13 languages:
American Sign Language, Arabic, Cantonese, Eastern Armenian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Western Armenian.
- Registered court interpreters: Interpreters of spoken languages for which there is no state certifying examination are called “registered interpreters of non-designated languages.” They must pass an English proficiency examination, and register with the state’s Judicial Council.
TRANSLATION OF DOCUMENTS
The California Courts website has a list of certified and registered interpreters for oral interpretation. Certified and registered interpreters may also translate documents, however, the California Courts does not test or certify an interpreter's written translation skills. The American Translators Association can also interpret documents.
TIPS FOR USING AN INTERPRETER
Using a court interpreter can be awkward because you have to go through another person to get your information or talk to the judge. Follow these tips when using an interpreter in a courtroom:
- Listen carefully to the interpreter.
- Wait for the interpreter to finish talking before you answer.
- Speak slowly so the interpreter can hear everything you say.
Do not interrupt, even if someone in court says something bad about you. You will get a chance to speak.
INTERPRETERS FOR THE DEAF OR HARD OF HEARING
Note: There are also American Sign Language interpreters and real time captioning for parties and witnesses that are deaf or hard-of-hearing (or have another disability). The court will provide a sign language interpreter or court reporter for you or other accommodation you may need. You can read more about this in the For Persons With Disabilities Requesting Accommodations section of this website to learn about the court's policy for accommodating persons with disabilities. Make your request as soon as possible, but at least 5 days prior to the hearing.
Children may be brought to the court and may stay in "Children’s Chambers" while their caregivers are conducting business with the court. Children’s Chambers is a safe drop-in center for children that lets children be children instead of spending long sessions listening to adult interactions that could be painful or frightening.
You can read more about which courts offer a Children’s Chambers and the guidelines.
The State Legislature decides what the fees are to file different kinds of Family Law forms. View the Current Fees.
If you are getting public benefits, are a low-income person, or do not have enough income to pay for your household’s basic needs and your court fees, you may ask the court to waive all or part of your court fees. For more information, go to Fee Waivers.
ABUSE AND/OR NEGLECT OF A CHILD:
JUDICIAL COUNCIL ACTIVITY BOOK FOR CHILDREN:
The state (Judicial Council) website has an online booklet for children, "What’s Happening at Court?" This is an activity book for children who are going to court in California.
- What’s Happening at Court?" (English)
- ¿Qué Sucede en la Corte?" (En Español) – Versión del Adobe Acrobat PDF
VISITATION PROVIDERS IN ORANGE COUNTY:
The Family Court Services of Superior Court of Orange County has developed a Parenting Plan Guideline.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
LOCAL LEGAL RESOURCES INFORMATION LINKS:
- Legal Resources Information Sheet: Legal Advice and Attorney Referrals (L-1172)
- "How to Get Your Evidence?" information
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND PROTECTIVE ORDERS:
- Domestic Violence: General Information and FAQs
- Protective Orders Types and Explanation
- Emergency Protective Orders