Court-based self-help services

Every superior court in California has free legal help available in family law and in small claims cases. Several superior courts can also help you with other legal issues, but it varies between courts.

Help from your court

Self-help programs are free. Anyone who does not have their own lawyer can get help from these programs. It does not matter how much money you make.

  • Any lawyer you speak with is not your lawyer. They work for the court. 
  • What you say to the lawyers or staff is not confidential. There is no attorney-client privilege.
  • Both sides of a case can use these programs.

Court-based programs  

All courts in California have a Self-Help Center that can provide free legal help to people who do not have a lawyer. Self-Help Center staff can:

  • Tell you about your case
  • Help you with the forms you need 
  • Explain your legal options

They can't give you legal advice or go to court for you.

How much help you can get, and with what types of legal problems, varies from court to court. In some courts, the Self-Help Center may only be able to help you with a few family law issues. In other courts, Self-Help Centers may be able to offer more services for things like evictions, name changes, guardianships, and others.

Find your court’s Self-Help Center and get more information about what services they offer.

A family law facilitator is a lawyer with experience in family law. The family law facilitator can give you educational materials that explain:

  • How to establish parentage (paternity)
  • How to get, change, or enforce child, spousal, or partner support orders

Some family law facilitators can help you with divorce, child custody, domestic violence, and other family law issues.

The family law facilitator can:

  • Give you the court forms you need
  • Help you fill out your forms
  • Help you figure out support amounts
  • Refer you to your local child support agency, family court services, and other community agencies that help parents and children

Contact the family law facilitator in your county to find out more.

Most counties are required to have a small claims advisor to give free legal information in small claims cases. The kinds of services offered vary from county to county.  The court clerk's office can tell you about the services available in your court.

Find your court’s small claims advisor (SCA).

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