Self Help Information

In San Diego, our firm represents clients in all of the court houses for all divorce, legal separation, paternity and other family law matters. Given the economy, some clients cannot afford an attorney and, in a family law case, there is no appointment of an attorney even if a party cannot afford an attorney. As such, many parties are forced to represent themselves.

Our office discourages any client from preparing their own pleadings and representing themselves without legal assistance. For some clients, it is not possible to hire an attorney even though our office discounts the legal fees and accepts credit cards. As such, below is information for self represented parties to assist them in obtaining information without hiring an attorney. This is provided as a public service to San Diego County Residents and all others who have a family law case pending in San Diego County.

The Family Law Facilitator’s Office is considered part of the Superior Court of San Diego County. The Facilitator’s Office will review your court file with you, provide legal information about court procedures and the law and assist in preparing and filing the forms for any upcoming court hearings. The Family Law Facilitator’s Office cannot give legal advice.

The Facilitator’s Offices are located at the following addresses and please make sure to verify as this information changes and this was current as of October 9, 2008. The first is at the Central Court House at 220 West Broadway and this is for Department of Child and Social Services cases only involving child support as the issue. The second is at the Family Court Building at 1555 Sixth Avenue and this office handles domestic violence restraining orders, paternity, divorce, legal separation, child custody, child visitation, spousal support and child support which is non DCSS. The third is at the Madge Bradley Building at 1409 Fourth Avenue and this office handles domestic violence restraining orders, paternity, divorce, legal separation, child custody, child visitation, spousal support and child support which is non DCSS however by referrals only. In addition, there is guardianship assistance at this office. The fourth is at the North County Courthouse at 325 South Melrose Drive and this office handles the domestic violence restraining orders, paternity, divorce, legal separation, child custody, child visitation, spousal support and child support which is both DCSS and non DCSS as the other court house in San Diego County which handles DCSS child support cases is in the North County Annex. The fifth is at the South Bay Courthouse at 500 Third Avenue and this handles divorce, paternity, child custody, spousal support, non DCSS child support and child visitation.

It is important to note that this is a first come, first served basis. Space is always limited and appointments cannot be made for this purpose. The Facilitator’s are very experienced and very good at their jobs however there are always many persons waiting for this assistance so you must be patient during this process. The best advice is to arrive early and expect to spend the entire day to try and obtain your goal of the preparation and filing of the pleadings necessary to protect your rights. Sign in times are either 7:00am or 7:30am depending on the different office. All offices are open Monday through Friday with the exception of court holidays. All offices are closed to the public from 12:00pm to 1:30pm.

In addition, there are divorce workshops which are given at the Family Court Building, North County Courthouse, South County Courthouse and East County Courthouse. There are workshops in both English and Spanish at different times and dates. Please verify what the current dates and times are with the Facilitator’s Office. These will be very useful for parties representing themselves.

If you have a financial issue you would like to file a motion for [raise or lower child and/or spousal support or arrear modification to the amount of monthly payment] you will need to bring your paystubs for the past two months as well as proof of your income for the last 12 months. For those who are unemployed, bring copies of the unemployment benefits and statement. For those who are disabled, bring proof of disability and copies of disability benefits and statement. For those who are self employed, bring a profit and loss statement for the past 12 months and the last two years tax returns for the business if you have them. There may be [and are] other documents which may be needed and you may need to come more than once to the Facilitator’s Office for assistance in the finalization of the pleadings and the filing. This list is not exhaustive or complete as each case is individual. Some cases involve asset and debt division as financial issues as well.

The current filing fees for the petition and summons are $320 and the filing fee for a first time Order to Show Cause for custody and visitation [and other temporary orders such as child support, spousal support, attorney fees and costs {if you have an attorney}, temporary exclusive use of a residence or vehicle or others] is $40 and this includes the mandatory mediation with Family Court Services. These are fees for cases other than DCSS. The Court Cashier accepts cash, credit cards and checks with some restrictions and there is an application for a waiver of filing fees if you cannot afford the filing fee itself. You can ask the Facilitator about this as necessary. If you have an attorney of record, you will need to bring in an executed Substitution of Attorney form before the Facilitator’s Office can assist.

There are other requirements and this article is not comprehensive nor complete and is introductory only into the strategies self represented litigants can avail themselves of without the cost of retaining an attorney. Our firm recommends you retain an attorney in any divorce, paternity or legal separation case. Our firm does not work with, is affiliated with or represents the Family Law Facilitator’s Office and this article is prepared as a public service for those who cannot afford an attorney to represent them. Further information may be obtained at the official San Diego Superior Court website which has information on the Family Law Facilitators program as well as other very useful information including a list of court holidays and some limited forms. This is a very complicated area of the law and each case is different and unique. Please feel free to contact our office for a complimentary and confidential consultation.