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Visiting Our Self-Help Center

The Self-Help Center offers free help to people who are representing themselves in Court in a variety of legal matters. Trained, knowledgeable staff can help you find and fill out Court forms, answer questions on how you can proceed in your case, help you understand the Court process, and refer you to other resources to save time and reduce frustration.

Our services include help with the following:

  • Child Custody
  • Child Support
  • Spousal Support
  • Parentage/Paternity
  • Divorce
  • Domestic Violence and Civil Harassment Restraining Orders
  • Elder Abuse
  • Adoptions
  • Names/Gender Change
  • Landlord/Tenant
  • Small Claims
  • Debt Collection
  • Court Procedures
  • Expungements
  • Emancipation

We are now accepting walk-in customers on a  first-come, first-served basis.   However appointments are strongly encouraged, as they will be given priority and will affect the wait time for walk-in customers. 

Office Hours

Monday through Friday

8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Make an Appointment

Getting Help at the Self-Help Center

The Self-Help Center staff offer assistance to help you in each phase of your case in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Help you select the proper legal forms based on what you are trying to accomplish.
  • Help you prepare paperwork to begin dissolution (divorce), legal separation or annulment, step-parent adoption or domestic violence restraining orders.
  • Assist you to prepare motions and/or orders to show cause and responses for custody and visitation, child support, spousal support and limited property issues.
  • Provide information and prepare draft calculations of support amounts based on statutory guidelines.
  • Review documents for completeness and instruction of how to file and serve the documents.
  • Instruction on what to expect and how to be prepare for a Court hearing.
  • Hold daily clinics in a classroom style setting to help you complete legal forms in all types of legal matters (not just family law).
  • Give you legal information and "How To" instructions in easy to understand language.
  • Referrals to other free self-help services (such as mediation) that can help resolve your case without having to go to Court.
  • Give you information about other free services and agencies that can help you help yourself.
  • We are not able to assist or answer questions for third parties or family members, including attorneys, law firms, document preparers and paralegal services. 

What Can I Expect During My Visit?

The Self-Help Center and Family Law Facilitator are located in the same office. Each time you visit the office you will need to check in at the front desk. Depending on the legal issue you wish to address, you may be signed in to meet one-on-one with a staff member.

Services are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. You should plan to spend at least a half day when you visit. It is recommended that you arrive as early as possible. All customers are strongly encouraged to make childcare arrangements before visiting our office.

What Should I Bring With Me?

  • Your picture identification.
  • A copy of all court documents related to your case, particularly any current judgment or orders.
  • Papers, documents, letters you have received from the Department of Child Support Services or from the other party concerning your case.
  • Copies of your last three paycheck stubs as well as information regarding any other income earned by either yourself or the other party.
  • W-2 forms for the last year and your filing status. If you are self-employed, please provide a copy of your federal tax return, including your Schedule C and your profit and loss statement.
  • An estimate of your monthly living expenses, including housing, utilities, insurance, food, transportation, education, clothing, daycare expenses, and any extraordinary expenses related to health care and catastrophic losses.
  • Names and birthdates of your children and an estimate of your custodial/visitation time with each child.

Disclosure

The Self-Help Center is available to help both parents and all other parties who have questions about family law and guardianship cases. The Self-Help Center can help you in preparing your own forms and can give you general information. The Self-Help Center staff cannot go with you to Court.

The Self-Help Center staff members DO NOT ACT AS YOUR LAWYER, but as a neutral person who does not represent any parent or party. There is no attorney-client relationship between you and the Self-Help Center staff.

The Self-Help Center may provide information and services to the other party in your case.

Communications between you and the Self-Help Center staff are not confidential. You should consult with your own attorney if you want personalized advice or strategy, to have a confidential conversation or to be represented by an attorney in Court.

The Self-Help Center is not responsible for the outcome of your case.

Other Resources

  • Family Law Terms & Definitions

    View basic definitions of legal terms and a detailed explanation of each type of family law action.

  • Child Support Services

    For additional information or assistance with collecting or enforcing child support, please contact the Stanislaus County Department of Child Support Services at (866)901-3212 or visit their website.

  • Child or Spousal Support Calculator

    Calculate your own child support or spousal support.

  • California Self-Help Center

    Visit the California Courts online Self-Help Center for Libraries, websites, legal books and Judicial Counsel Forms.

  • Centro de Ayuda en español

    Visit the California Courts online Self-Help Center in Spanish.

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