Civil Self-Help
Info Sheet for Self Help Programs

Civil/Small Claims Self-Help Services

Civil self-help is designed to provide information and forms for people who are representing themselves in court. The information on this website is intended to help guide you through the court system.

 Self-Help Info Centers

Self-Help Information Centers provide general assistance to people who do not have an attorney.

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Civil Harassment Restraining Orders

Info Sheet for Self-Help Services - Restraining Orders

Self-Help Services - Restraining Orders

A civil harassment restraining order is a court order that helps protect people from violence, stalking, serious harassment, or threats of violence. You can ask for a civil harassment restraining order if:

  • A person has abused (or threatened to abuse), sexually assaulted, stalked, or seriously harassed you, and
  • You are scared or seriously annoyed or harassed.
Generally, for civil harassment restraining orders, the person you want to restrain is not:
  • Your spouse/partner or former spouse/partner,
  • Someone you dated at any point, or
  • A close relative (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law).
If you have a close relationship like one of these, consider whether a domestic violence restraining order is best for your situation. In a civil harassment restraining order, you can ask to restrain:
  • A neighbor,
  • A roommate,
  • A friend,
  • A family member more than 2 degrees removed, like an aunt or uncle, a niece or nephew, cousins, and more distant relatives, or
  • Other people you are not closely related to.

For more information on Civil Harassment, see the California Courts Website Civil Harrasment Page (external site ).

Learn More

Fillable Form Packets:

Form Packet Name Description Form Links Resources
Request for Civil Harassment Restraining Order Forms to request a civil harassment restraining order. English (pdf ) Complete Forms
Online (external site )
Response to Civil Harassment Restraining Order Answer to Restraining order if you want to respond or defend yourself against a restraining order being placed against you. English (pdf ) Complete Forms
Online (external site )
Request to Waive Court Fees Request to the court to waive filing fees, copy fees, or other court fees. English (pdf )
Information Packet
(external site pdf )
Get Help

Name Change

In order to get a court order changing your name or a child’s name, you must file a petition in the Superior Court in the county where you live. You can then use the court order to change the birth certificate, passport, social security card, driver’s license, and other documents.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Most people solve their legal problems without a trial. “ADR” can help.

What is ADR?

ADR (“Alternative Dispute Resolution”) is a way to solve legal problems without going through trial. Two examples are Arbitration and Mediation.


Arbitration is like a trial, but it is less formal. It takes place in an office, not a courtroom. The parties (people with a legal dispute) present their evidence to an “arbitrator.” The arbitrator decides who wins the case and how much they win. There are two kinds of arbitration. “Binding” arbitration means that the arbitrator’s decision is final. There is no appeal or trial after that decision. “Nonbinding” arbitration means that after the arbitration, either party can request a trial. But if the party who requests the trial gets a worse decision at trial, there may be penalties.


Mediation is nothing like a trial. The parties meet with a mediator in an office. The mediator may meet with the parties separately or together. The mediator listens to all the parties and tries to help them work out a solution that works for everyone. The mediator does not make a decision and does not talk to the judge about the case. If the parties cannot agree on a solution, the case can go to trial.

There are many advantages to Mediation:

  • Mediation saves time: Your dispute may be resolved in less time than it takes to proceed through court;
  • Mediation saves money: The number of trips to court are reduced, saving time and money;
  • Mediation encourages cooperation: The parties can work together, with the help of the mediator, to resolve their case in a way that makes sense to them;
  • Mediation can reduce stress: Mediation is informal, and saves time and money.  There are fewer court appearances required and the dispute can be resolved sooner, so you don’t have an unresolved dispute hanging over your head for years; 
  • Mediation encourages participation: In mediation, the parties have more opportunity to tell their side of the story;
  • Mediation can be more satisfying: In mediation, the parties have more control over the outcome of the dispute.  

For more information or to locate ADR programs: