The Self Help center includes the services of the Self-Help Center, Family Law Facilitator and Small Claims Advisor.
Masks are still required in the Self-Help Center due to the high number of people served and the size of our facility. If you come without a mask, we are happy to provide one for you.
It is always helpful (but not required) if you call or email before coming in-person. We may be able to help you remotely, give you homework, and assist you in preparing to make the most of your in-person visit. Please do not have a friend or family member call or come in person for you. We can only work with the person in need directly.
The Santa Cruz Superior Court offers a free Self Help Center (SHC) to assist self represented customers with a variety of basic legal issues. The SHC includes the services of the Family Law Facilitator and the Small Claims Advisor. Below you will find a list of legal issues the SHC can assist you with. This page also provides other internet and community legal resources that may be helpful to you.
The Self Help Center can provide court forms and legal information Monday - Thursday 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM, & 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM for the following legal issues:
- Family Law: Including, but not limited to, divorce, child support, child custody
- Restraining Orders
- Guardianship of the person
- Limited Conservatorship
- Landlord/Tenant - Due to the current complexity of the law we are providing limited assistance
- Name Change/Gender Change
- Civil - breach of contract collection cases only
- Small Claims
- Probate Conservatorship: Limited services - see below
- Record Clearance: Workshop only - see below
- Provide community and legal resources
We help with many other issues too. Please call or email to see if we can help you.
Please read the "come prepared section" at the bottom of this page.
In general please note the following:
- We can only help you. Please do not send someone in your place.
- Customers receive service at the Self Help Center on a first come, first serve basis.
- We suggest you arrive before the session starts to ensure a spot in line (sessions start at 8:30 AM and 1:00 PM). Sessions often fill up before the stated closure times.
- The Self Help Center is not a safe place for children. Children are not allowed at the Self Help Center.
- We can not assist you if you have an attorney of record.
Other Ways to Contact Us
- Leave a message at 831-786-7200 option 4. All calls are returned within 72 hours.
- Email us at email@example.com Emails are returned within 48 hours during business days and are often returned sooner.
Santa Cruz Self-Help Record Clearance assistance
Record Clearance information can be obtained by visiting, calling, or emailing the Law Library in Santa Cruz, 701 Ocean Street, Room 70, basement. (831) 420-2205 or firstname.lastname@example.org Visit www.lawlibrary.org for current hours of in-person services.
Housing Services (Landlord/Tenant)
Free Housing Mediation Services
Conflict Resolution Center of Santa Cruz County offers mediation for those experiencing conflict between landlords and tenants or person(s) you live with. Due to local, state, and national funding, most housing related consultations and mediations are currently offered at NO COST. Mediation services are available even if there isn't a pending court case. For more information see their flyer.
Small Claims Program: Hours and Locations
- Small Claims Advisor Program Phone Line: 831-786-7370.
- Messages can be left at anytime. Calls are returned within 72 hours.
- Watsonville: Walk in assistance during our regular hours above. It is a good idea to call first. Most questions can be answered over the phone.
- More information about the Small Claims Advisor Program.
- Small Claims Workshop via Zoom. The second Thursday of every other month at 6:00 p.m. The link for the workshop is https://santacruzcourt.org.zoomgov.com/j/1618263934 The first three dates for 2023 are 1/12, 3/9, and 5/11. The workshop will be presented in English. If you need Small Claims assistance in another language, please contact us by phone or email.
Probate Conservatorship: Hours and Locations
- Watsonville: Call 831-786-7200 option 4 to request an informational appointment. Leave a message with your name and phone number requesting a Probate Conservatorship appointment. Phone calls are returned within 72 hours.
File @ Home
"Odyssey Guide & File" allows you to complete online interviews for certain types of legal actions. Once the interview is complete the required court forms may be printed. Once printed the forms may be submitted to the Court. We encourage you to use "Odyssey Guide & File" only after consultation with the Self Help Center.
There are many other low cost or no cost community, legal and internet resources that might be helpful to you. Please see the following for more information:
- Self Help Center Flyer
- Centro de Ayuda en Español
- Domestic Violence Resources for Santa Cruz County
- Legal Resources for Santa Cruz County
- Internet Resources
- Using Zoom for Your Remote Appearance
- Usar Zoom para su apariencia remota
- How to Prepare for Your Remote Zoom Court Appearance
- Como prepararse para su apariencia en corte por medio de Zoom remoto
How to come prepared to use the Self-Help Center?
Please read the following information so that you can have the best possible experience at the Self Help Center.
The Self Help Center, which includes the services of the Family Law Facilitator, helps people who need legal information but do not have lawyers. The Center can give you information, court forms, and help you understand your legal options. We cannot represent you and in most cases you will be required to fill out your own court forms with our guidance. We only help with very simple legal situations, often we may need to refer you to a private attorney or to the law library for you to do your own legal research. We help many people each day therefore we usually spend less than 15 minutes with each person and there can be a long wait. We are not responsible for the outcome of your case. Conversations with the Self Help Center are not confidential, we do assist parties on both sides of the case, and we can not assist you if you are currently represented by an attorney.
When you arrive
When you arrive please sign in and you will be called in the order your intake form is turned in. Depending on how many people need assistance, the sign in sheet may fill up before the end of the stated hours of operation. We apologize for this, but we do not know how many people will need help on any given day. Many people arrive and line up outside the SHC at either 8 am for the morning session or 12:30 pm for the afternoon session.
Be prepared to wait
The wait may be several hours after you check in. You may also need to return for multiple visits depending on your legal issue.
Cost for Services
There is no cost for the services of the Self Help Center but you may have to pay for copies and court filing fees at the clerk’s office.
How do I hire an attorney?
The Self Help Center cannot represent you or give the name of any specific attorneys. We can give you community resources to assist you in finding your own attorney. You may call the Lawyer Referral Service for a low cost attorney consultation at 831-425-4755.
What should I bring to Self Help Center?
Try to bring a copy of your entire court file (including all of your court case numbers) and any documents that support your legal issue (such as pay stubs if you are modifying child support). Also bring a pen, stamps (you may need as many as 8), blank envelopes, and something to keep you busy while you wait. Please keep all cell phones turned off.
What if I don’t speak English well?
We cannot guarantee an interpreter. You may need to bring your own interpreter and someone to help you fill out your court forms in English.
Come in person
Your case is most important to you and you have the most knowledge about your case. We can not assist you if you send a family member or friend in your place.
Children are not allowed at the Self Help Center. Your children are very valuable. The waiting time can be hard on them and you can be distracted by their needs. It is not in your children’s best interest to be present when you are talking about your legal problems.
What if I just want a legal form?
Program Changes/Office Closure
Due to our small staff there can be unexpected office closures. There are many days when the office is only staffed by one attorney. We apologize for any inconvenience.