FAMILY LAW FACILITATOR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
much does is cost to see the Facilitator?
is no charge for the services of the Family Law Facilitator.
matters can the Family Law Facilitator assist with?
Facilitator can assist only in the following areas; child support, family law
and related areas, small claims, unlawful detainer lawsuits (for tenants only)
step-parent adoption, domestic violence, civil harassment restraining orders,
name change and guardianship. The Facilitator does not assist with criminal,
dependency, or general civil matters.
canít I have a private appointment with the Facilitator?
goal of the Facilitator is to provide service in a timely manner to all who
need assistance with a matter covered by the Facilitator. We learned that the
best way to meet the needs of our customers is through our walk-in Self-Help
Clinics.† With appointments you might
have to wait several weeks to see the Facilitator. The Facilitator may schedule
individual appointments if s/he determines that the matter cannot be handled in
the clinic setting.
do I have to fill out paperwork each time I come in?
law requires that each person receiving the free services of the Facilitator
sign a disclosure form, stating that he or she understands the nature of our
services and that there is no attorney-client relationship. We must also
collect statistical data so that the extent and effectiveness of our services
can be reviewed for funding and other purposes.
canít I just get my questions answered over the phone?
order to give you accurate information, the Facilitator will usually need to
review the documents filed in your case. This is only possible when you come to
the clinic fully prepared with all of your court documents. The Facilitatorís
Office sees many people weekly. It is difficult to timely return telephone
does "In Pro Per" or "Pro Se" mean?
means that you are representing yourself in your legal matter.† Since you are acting as your own attorney,
you have sole responsibility for managing your case, meeting deadlines, and
necessary documents and information to the court in
the proper form.
I hire an attorney to represent me?
is usually helpful to have an attorney. An attorney may be able to help you
argue your case more effectively, in your written documents, as well as in the
courtroom. If your case is contested or involves complicated legal issues, an
attorney can be especially helpful. Your own attorney can give you strategic
advice, investigate for you and file custom-prepared paperwork for you. The
Family Law Facilitator can only give you generalized legal information and
assist you in filling out court forms. If you must travel a long distance to
make court appearances, it may actually be more cost-effective to hire a local
attorney. The Facilitatorís Office may not be able to assist you with
everything needed in your particular case. For example, if you need an order
dividing a retirement plan, you will need to have the help of a private
attorney. Some attorneys will provide limited representation that can save you
filed my divorce papers six months ago. Is my divorce now final?
divorce is not final until the court enters your Judgment. You are not single,
and free to remarry, until your judgment has been entered and it has been at
least six months since summons was served on the Respondent. The date of
termination of your marital status should be shown on your Judgment. You may
not remarry until that date. You will be required to fill out additional papers
obtain your judgment. Nothing will happen
do I change a custody or visitation order? How long will it take?
may ask the court to modify the order by filing with the court a Notice of
Motion or Order to Show Cause, with the required Application for Order and
Supporting Declaration. Sometimes the court will not modify a previous order
unless you can show a ďsubstantial change of circumstancesĒ. Your first court
date will usually be set for about a month from the date you are ready to serve
the other party. You may ask the Judge/Commissioner for the orders you are
seeking at your first hearing, but you will probably be referred to mediation
and given another court date. If you do not reach agreement in mediation, you
may† have more court appearances, or
even a contested evidence hearing. The entire process can take several months.
The court may make interim orders while the mediation process is pending.
if I need emergency orders?
a true emergency, you may be able to obtain orders right away, by following the
courtís "ex parte application" procedure. Our court hears "ex
parte" matters Monday through Friday at 1:15 p.m. You will generally be
required to give notice (often by telephone or fax) to the other party, by
10:00 a.m. the day before the hearing. The court also must be notified by 12:00
p.m. the day before the hearing. The notice must inform the other party of the
date and time of the ex parte proceeding, and the type of order that you are
seeking. Notice is only excused if there is a risk of ďirreparable harmĒ,
violence, or if notice to the other party would make any orders meaningless.
Our court requires that you complete our local form "Declaration re Ex
Parte Notice" whenever you are asking the court to make an ex parte order.
do I get information to the judge? Should I send a letter?
donít send a letter. A letter would be considered an ex parte communication and
is not allowed. The letter will be retained in the courtís file but will not be
acted upon. You may usually file a declaration under penalty of perjury. Any
declaration submitted to the court must be served on the other party or
parties, and a proof of service must be filed with the court. If a motion or
Order to Show Cause is pending, the declaration will be reviewed by the judge
when he or she reviews your file in preparation for the hearing. If there is no
motion pending, you will probably need to file one if you want the judge to act
on the information you are submitting.
"ex" is not paying the court-ordered child support. What should I do?
state Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) will provide child support
enforcement services to you at no cost. The resources available to DCSS in
locating an absent parent and enforcing a child support order are greater than
those available to individuals or private attorneys. If DCSS is collecting your
child support they can request an Earnings Assignment Order from the court. The
employer withholds the court-ordered amount from the other parentís wages,
sends it to DCSS, and the State Distribution Unit will send a check to you.
DCSS can also record an Abstract of Support Judgment in the county in which the
obligor parent resides or may own property. This creates a lien on any real
property owned by the obligor parent in that county. If you do not wish to use
the DCSSí services, you may obtain an Earnings
Assignment Order yourself. The Family Law
Facilitator can assist you. There may be other methods of child support
enforcement. You should discuss this with the Facilitator or a representative
of DCSS at their local office.
†Q:††††††† How do I get my child support lowered?
there has been a substantial change of circumstances, such as an involuntary
and permanent change in employment, you may seek a change in your child support
by filing a Notice of Motion or Order to Show Cause, together with the required
Application for Order and Supporting Declaration, and an Income and Expense
Declaration. You may wish to ask the Facilitator to calculate an estimated
child support for you, based on the relative incomes of the parents and the
amount of time they spend with the children according to the statewide
guideline for child support. You may wish to do this before you file a motion.
In some cases, asking to modify child support can have unexpected results.
I give up my parental rights, will I still have to pay child support?† What if I never see my child?
true termination of parental rights is usually ordered only in cases in which
someone else is prepared to adopt the child. Termination of parental rights
means that you are no longer considered to be the parent of the child, and are
no longer responsible for the child. The court will generally not order
a termination of your parental rights, if that
would leave the child with only one parent responsible for the childís care and
support. California law requires you to provide financial support for your
child(ren) whether or not you visit the child(ren). In fact, the less you visit
your child, the higher your support is likely to be.