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Self-Help

The Self Help center includes the services of the Self-Help Center, Family Law Facilitator and Small Claims Advisor.

Service Update

Please check our COVID-19 page for the latest information on Court operations.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, we have very limited seating. Please call or email before coming in, so we can help you prepare for your 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.

 

Self-Help Center

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
  • Collections
  • Emancipation
  • 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

Santa Cruz Self-Help Record Clearance assistance

Record Clearance assistance is offered each month at the Law Library in Santa Cruz, 701 Ocean Street, Room 70, basement. Assistance is now by appointment only. The flyer with more information can be found here:

Record Clearance

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.

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 apointment. 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.

Community Resources

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:

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.

Come Prepared

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

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?

You can download any state court form at the California Courts website and local Santa Cruz Superior Court forms on this website.

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.

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