Self-Help Legal Services

What is Self-Help Legal Services?


Self-Help Legal Services provides legal assistance in the areas of family law, evictions, small claims, name changes, guardianship, conservatorship, probate and restraining orders. You can find information about upcoming workshops and other available assistance below.

How Do I Get Started?


You can research your case by choosing from the buttons below. More topics are available at the Self-Help Tab above or at the list of topics on the left.

Gavel on Book Titled: Small Claims

Small Claims

Small Claims court is a special civil court where disputes are resolved quickly and inexpensively. The rules are simple and informal.

Small Claims
Riverside Historic Courthouse Building

Civil Self Help

Information on Civil Harassment Restraining Order, Name Change and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

Civil Self Help
Balance Scales on Courtroom Table With Jury Box in Background

Eviction (Unlawful Detainer)

Information on a legal process through which a landlord can remove a tenant from a property the tenant is renting.

Eviction
A Child's Hands Holding Together Two Hands in a Handshake

Families & Children

Information regarding divorce, separation, and child custody.

Families & Children
Purple Domestic Violence Ribbon on Scuffed Rough Wood

Domestic Violence

A restraining order is a court order that helps protect people from abuse, and/or threats of abuse from someone they have a close relationship with.

Domestic Violence
Desk With Various Items on it Including a Calendar, Clock, Files, A Phone and Laptop

Probate

Probate Court handles decedent's estates, trust proceedings, guardianship proceedings, conservatorship proceedings, minor's compromises, and mental health filings.

Probate

How Do I Get Help With Legal Information and Assistance With Forms?


Self Help Legal Services offers limited assistance in the case types shown below. Please click on the button for a list of services and how to get assistance.


Self-Help Events and Workshops


Please take a look at the calendars below for upcoming Self-Help Events and Workshops:





Fillable Self-Help Packets


Self-Help form packets generally include a group of forms that are required to be completed in order to either begin or complete a case.


Find Self-Help Packets For:  Collapse All Expand All  

Civil

Unlawful Detainer (Evictions)

An unlawful detainer is a legal way for a landlord to evict a tenant. For more information on Unlawful Detainers, see the Evictions Page.

Form Packet Name Description Form Links Resources
Unlawful Detainer – Complaint Forms to start an unlawful detainer (eviction) case. English (pdf )
Complete Forms
Online (external site )
Unlawful Detainer – Answer Respond to an unlawful detainer (eviction). Should be filed within 5 days after you are served the summons and complaint. English (pdf ) Complete Forms
Online (external site ) Tenant's Unlawful Detainer Chart (pdf )
Unlawful Detainer – Default Judgment Finish your eviction case.
Requirement:
  • No response filed by defendant.
English (pdf )

Name Change

Legally changing your name or a minor's name by getting a court order. With a court order you can change your legal name on government-issued identification documents such as your driver's license, passport, and social security card. You will generally need a certified copy of the decree changing your name. For more information on name changes, see the Civil Self-Help Page.

Form Packet Name Description Form Links Resources
Name Change You can ask for a court order to:
  • Change your own name
  • Change your name to match your gender identity
  • Change the name(s) of one or more children
  • Change your own name and that of one or more of your children (family group)

Complete Forms
Online (external site )
List of Approved Newspapers (external site pdf )

Civil Harassment Restraining Order

A civil harassment restraining order is a court order that helps protect people from violence, stalking, serious harassment, or threats of violence.

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 Civil Self-Help Page.

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 )
Instructions/Information (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 )

Small Claims

Small Claims court is a special civil court where disputes are resolved quickly and inexpensively. The rules are simple and informal.

The maximum amount that you can sue for depends on who you are and who you are suing:

  • An individual or Sole Proprietor - $10,000.00
  • A Corporation or Business - $5,000.00

For more information on Small Claims, see the Small Claims Page.

Form Packet Name Description Form Links Resources
Small Claims – Plaintiff’s Claim Forms to start a small claims case. English (pdf ) Instructions/Information (external site )
Small Claims – Defendant’s Claim If the Plaintiff owes you monies, you may file a Defendant’s Claim. This is not a response. English (pdf ) Being Sued - Small Claims Self-Help (external site )
Small Claims – COVID 19 Rental Debt Forms for a landlord to start a COVID-19 rental debt case. English (pdf ) The Small Claims COVID-19 Rental Debt process (external site )


Family Law

Divorce, Legal Separation or Nullity

To end a marriage or registered domestic partnership in California you must either file for a divorce or an annulment. Once completed it restores the parties to single status.

A legal separation is for couples who do not want to divorce but want to live apart. It does not end a marriage. You cannot remarry or enter in a domestic partnership if you are legally separated.

For more information on Divorce Legal Separation and Nullity, see the Divorce or Separation Page.

Form Packet Name Description Form Links Resources
Petition for Dissolution, Legal Separation or Nullity of Marriage Start a divorce, legal separation, or nullity case. English (pdf )
Español (pdf )
Referencia en Español (pdf )
Response to Petition for Dissolution, Legal Separation or Nullity of Marriage Respond (answer) a divorce, legal separation, or nullity petition. English (pdf )
Español (pdf )
Referencia en Español (pdf )
Petition for Summary Dissolution of Marriage Start a divorce by agreement. Requirements:
  • No children together
  • Married 5 years or less
  • Owe no more than $6,000
English (pdf )
Español (pdf )
Information Packet
(external site pdf )
Paquete de Información (pdf )
Financial Disclosure Packet
*These forms are already included in our Petition for Dissolution, Legal Separation or Nullity of Marriage packet and our Response to Petition for Dissolution, Legal Separation or Nullity of Marriage packet listed above.
Complete and file in order to satisfy the legal requirements concerning disclosure of all assets, debts and financial information for a divorce, legal separation, or nullity case. English (pdf )
Dissolution Default Judgment Complete a divorce or legal separation case.
Requirement:
  • No Response (FL-120) is filed
English (pdf )
Dissolution Default Judgment - With Signed Agreement Complete a divorce or legal separation case.
Requirement:
  • No Response (FL-120) is filed
  • Both parties have an agreement
English (pdf )
Dissolution Judgment by Agreement Complete a divorce or legal separation case.
Requirement:
  • Response (FL-120) is filed
English (pdf )

Paternity

To end a marriage or registered domestic partnership in California you must either file for a divorce or an annulment. Once completed it restores the parties to single status.

A legal separation is for couples who do not want to divorce but want to live apart. It does not end a marriage. You cannot remarry or enter in a domestic partnership if you are legally separated.

For more information on Divorce Legal Separation and Nullity, see the Divorce or Separation Page.

Form Packet Name Description Form Links Resources
Petition to Determine Parental Relationship Start a court case and ask for orders concerning custody, visitation, name change, and child support. English (pdf )
Response to Determine Parental Relationship Respond to a petition to determine parental relationship. The responding parent can ask for orders concerning custody, visitation, child support, genetic (DNA) tests, or name change concerning the minor child(ren). English (pdf )
Paternity Default Judgment Complete a parentage case.
Requirement:
  • No Response (FL-220) is filed
English (pdf )
Paternity Judgment by Agreement Complete a parentage case.
Requirement:
  • Response (FL-220) is filed
English (pdf )

Other Family Law Cases

Form Packet Name Description Form Links Resources
Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children Married Couples want the court make custody and visitation orders and other orders. English (pdf )
Response to Custody and Support of Minor Children Respond (answer) to a married Couples want the court make custody and visitation orders and other orders. English (pdf )

Domestic Violence Restraining Order

A domestic violence restraining order is a court order that helps protect people from abuse or threats of abuse from someone they have a close relationship with.

You can ask for a domestic violence restraining order if:

1. A person has abused (or threatened to abuse) you;

AND

2. You have a close relationship with that person. You are:

  • Married or registered domestic partners,
  • Divorced or separated,
  • Dating or used to date,
  • Living together or used to live together (more than roommates),
  • Parents together of a child, OR
  • Closely related (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law).
Form Packet Name Form Links Resources
Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order (with Children) English (pdf )
Español (pdf )
Complete forms
Online (external site )
Referencia en Español (pdf )
Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order (without Children) English (pdf )
Español (pdf )
Complete forms
Online (external site )
Referencia en Español (pdf )
Answer to Domestic Violence Restraining Order English (pdf )
Complete forms
Online (external site )

Other Family Law Packets

Form Packet Name Description Form Links Resources
Request for Order (Non-Emergency) Schedule a court hearing and ask the court to make new orders or to change orders in a case. English (pdf )
Español (pdf )
Video: How to schedule a hearing?
Request for Emergency Order Schedule an emergency court hearing and ask the court to make new orders or to change orders in a case. English (pdf )
Video: How do I file a Request for Temporary Emergency Orders?
Video: ¿Como presento una Solicitud de Ordenes de Emergencia Temporales?
Request for Order Regarding Overdue Support Schedule a court hearing and ask the court to enter a judgment for overdue child and/or spousal support not paid. English (pdf )
Responsive Declaration to Request for Order Response to Request for Order forms. English (pdf )
Service by Email for Department Child Support Services (DCSS) Serve court documents on the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) by email. English (pdf )
Income Withholding Order for Support An order that the court will sign to allow a party to garnish the paychecks or income sources of a party ordered to pay monthly child support or spousal support. English (pdf )
Information Packet
(external site pdf )
Spousal Support Declaration The factors the court will consider in establishing or modifying spousal/partner support. English (pdf )
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 )
Mandatory Settlement Conference (MSC)
  • Trial Readiness Conference (TRC)
English MSC (pdf ) Video: How Do I Prepare for an MSC?
Income and Expense Declaration English (pdf ) Complete Forms
Online (external site )
Referencia en Español (pdf )
How to Separate the forms from my packet? Instructions on how to separate Self Help packets, to be able to eSubmit. Video: How to Separate the forms from my packet?

Probate

Conservatorship

A conservatorship is a court case in which a judge appoints a family member, friend or other responsible person (called a conservator) to care for another adult who cannot care for him or herself (called a conservatee). Once you are appointed conservator, you are legally responsible to provide care for the conservatee’s daily needs. For more information on Conservatorship, see the Conservatorship Page.

Form Packet Name Description Form Links Resources
Conservatorship - General For adults who are unable to provide for their personal needs due to physical injury or disability or other reasons rendering them incapable of caring for themselves. English (pdf )
Conservatorship - Dementia For adults who are unable to provide for their personal needs and/or managing their assets and finances due to dementia or other neurocognitive conditions. English (pdf )
Conservatorship - Limited This is only for a person who is developmentally disabled. In this type of conservatorship, the powers of the conservator are limited so that the disabled person may live as independently as possible. English (pdf )
Fee Waiver – Conservatorship If a person can’t afford to pay the court costs and fees. English (pdf )

Guardianship

A guardianship is a court case in which a person who is not the parent of a child asks for custody of the child, the power to manage the child’s property, or both. There are two types of guardianships. Most cases go to the Probate Court. But if the child is a dependent or ward of the juvenile court, guardianship must be decided in Juvenile Court. For more information on Guardianship, see the Guardianship Page.

Form Packet Name Description Form Links Resources
Guardianship – General Packet to obtain permanent or long-term orders. English (pdf )
Complete forms
Online (external site )
Guardianship - Temporary Packet to obtain emergency orders. A general guardianship petition packet must be filed at the same time as the temporary packet. English (pdf )
Complete forms
Online (external site )
Fee Waiver – Guardianship If a person can’t afford to pay the court costs and fees. English (pdf )

Decedents' Estate

Procedures that can be used to manage the assets and debts of a decedent, and / or to obtain authority to distribute the assets to those entitled to receive them. For more information on Decedent’s estate, see the Estates Wills & Trusts Page.

Form Packet Name Description Form Links Resources
Petition for Probate This petition is to have a person appointed to manage a deceased’s estate and distribute and/or transfer the assets to the deceased’s beneficiaries or legal heirs. English (pdf )
Publishing Notice of Petition to Administer Estate (pdf )
Spousal Property Petition This petition is to transfer or confirm real and personal property of the deceased to a surviving spouse. English (pdf )
Petition to Determine Succession This petition is used to determine and transfer the decedent’s assets to his/her legal heirs. This petition can only be used if all of the decedent’s real and personal property is valued less than $166,250 and all legal heirs sign the petition. English (pdf )
Affidavit Re: Real Property of Small Value This petition is used to transfer only real property of the decedent to the legal heirs. This petition can only be used if all of the decedent’s real property is valued less than $55,425 and all legal heirs sign the petition. English (pdf )

Elder/ Dependent Abuse

Abuse of an elder or a dependent adult is abuse of:

  • Someone 65 years old or older; or
  • A dependent adult, who is someone between 18 and 64 that has certain mental or physical disabilities that keep him or her from being able to do normal activities or protect himself or herself.

The law says elder or dependent adult abuse is:

  • Physical abuse, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, abduction (taking the person out of the state against his or her will), or other behavior that causes physical harm, pain, or mental suffering; OR
  • Deprivation by a caregiver of things or services that the elder or dependent adult needs to avoid physical harm or mental suffering.

For more information on Elder Abuse, see the Elder Abuse Page.

Form Packet Name Description Form Links Resources
Request for Elder Abuse or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Order Restraining order is a court order that helps protect Dependent Adult or someone who is 65 years or older from abuse or threats of abuse. English (pdf )
Complete forms
Online (external site )
Response to Request for Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Orders Answer (respond) to restraining order that helps protect Dependent Adult or someone who is 65 years or older from abuse or threats of abuse. Complete forms
Online (external site )



Miscellaneous

Form Packet Name Description Form Links Resources
Request to Waive Court Fee Waiver If a person can’t afford to pay the court costs and fees. English (pdf )
Expungement Allows a person to reopen your criminal case, set aside the conviction and dismiss the case. English (pdf )
For more information on expungement, please see the Expungement Page.