The purpose of the Family Law Division is to process and file documents which have been presented either at the counter or by mail. State law prohibits the court staff from giving legal advice. If you need legal advice, you may consult an attorney or you may wish to do your own research.
- Family Law Facilitator
- 3400 West Mineral King, Suite C.
- Phone: 559-737-5500
A dissolution of marriage (or divorce) may be filed by a party seeking to end a marriage. To obtain a divorce in the state of California, you or your spouse must have lived in California for the last six months and for three months in the county where you are going to file for divorce.
A party who either can't file for divorce because he or she doesn't meet the residency requirements or does not wish to end the marriage for psychological or economic reasons may file a legal separation. The judicial officer can make orders for child support and/or spousal support, custody and visitation, and division of property; however, the parties remain legally married, even though they may be living apart.
You may ask the judge to declare that your marriage is not valid by filing an annulment (nullity of marriage). There are several reasons for why a judge may say that a marriage is not legally valid. For example, a marriage that is incestuous (between close blood relatives) or bigamous (where a spouse is already married to someone else) is never legally valid.
The Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children may be filed by parents who:
- Have signed a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, or
- Are married and don't want to get legally separated or divorced, or
- Are not married and have legally adopted a child together, or
- Have been determined to be the parents in a juvenile or Department of Child Support case
By filing this petition, the parents may ask the court to make custody and support orders, in addition to other orders.
You may also ask the court to make orders for child support, spousal support, custody, and visitation by filing an Order to Show Cause or a Notice of Motion on an existing divorce, legal separation, or nullity, domestic partnership, or paternity case.
Establishing paternity means saying who the legal parents of a child are if the parents were not married when the child was born.
A child's parentage must be established before you can get child support or custody and visitation orders. By filing the Petition to Establish Parental Relationship, you may ask the court for child support or custody and visitation as part of this case.
Domestic partners are defined as "two adults who have chosen to share one another's lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring."
To dissolve (terminate) a Domestic Partnership, you may file a Petition for Dissolution.
What is a restraining order?
It is a court order that helps protect people from abuse.
What is abuse?
Abuse means to hit, kick, hurt, scare, throw things, pull hair, push, follow, harass, sexually assault, or threaten to do any of these things. Abuse can be spoken, written, or physical.
Can I get a restraining order?
You can ask for one if:
- A person has abused you, and
- You have a close relationship with that person (married, divorced, separated, dating or use to date, live together or used to live together), or you are related (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law)
How will the restraining order help me?
It can order the restrained person to:
- Not contact or go near you, your children, other relatives, or others who live with you
- Not have a gun
- Move out of your house
- Follow child custody and visitation orders
- Pay child support
For more detailed information, you may visit the Family Law Facilitator or log onto the Judicial Council's self help web site at www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/protection
The cost for copies is $.50 per page. If certification is requested, an additional $15.00 per document will be assessed.
Please provide the following information:
- Petitioner's and Respondent's name
- Case Number
- Specific documents requested
To request copies by mail, submit a check payable to "Clerk of the Court." DO NOT SEND CASH. If the total amount is unknown, indicate under the amount line "not to exceed $25.00." The correct amount will be filled in and a receipt will be forwarded, along with the requested copies. All checks must be preprinted with the maker's name and address. Copy orders are filled within 7-10 working days.
Please include a self addressed, stamped envelope large enough to accommodate the request.
To request a certified copy of a judgment (divorce decree), please provide us with a case number. If you do not know the case number, you must provide us with the full names of both parties at the time the divorce was filed and the approximate year of the filing.
You may mail your request, along with a self-addressed envelope with sufficient postage and a check or money order for $55.00 plus $.50 per page copy fee. Or, you may visit the office Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
To request copies from a paternity case, you must come into the office and show picture identification. Information/copies can only be provided to the actual parties listed on the case.
When will my divorce be final?
-Six months and one day from the date of service, providing all required documents have been submitted to the Court.
How do I get a court date?
How do I modify custody and/or visitation orders?
How do I restore my former name after the divorce is final?
You must file an Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name.
If I have been served with a petition, what should I do?
Consult an attorney or file a response within 30 days.
The Self-Help Resource Center offers the following classes each week:
Services are offered by Self-Help Resource Center staff in Porterville each Thursday from 9:00 to 4:00 at 270 Division Street (the back of the Department of Child Support Services building).
Every Wednesday: Arrive no later than 9:00 a.m. with a packet of divorce forms, a current pay stub and a list of any property or debts that need to be divided. Packets of forms may be purchased for $5.00 in Room 201 of the Visalia courthouse.
Every Tuesday: Arrive no later than 9:00 a.m. If a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity was signed, please bring a copy.
Every Friday: Arrive no later than 9:00 a.m. Bring a copy of the most recent order and a pay stub if support is an issue.
Offered weekly: You must have an appointment for this session. Call 737-5500 with your case number to schedule an appointment. Services are offered by Self-Help Resource Center staff in the Tulare courthouse on the first and third Mondays of each month from 1:30 - 4:30 in courtroom 3.
Department of Child Support Services matters are heard on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and in the afternoon on the third Tuesday of each month in the Dinuba division.
There are no clerk window services available for filing documents related to Department of Child Support Services' cases in the Dinuba division. Parties wishing to file paperwork must submit their documents to the clerk's office located at the Department of Child Support Services, 8040 Doe Avenue, Visalia, CA 93291 (559) 713-5800 or at the Porterville Department of Child Support Services located at 259 North Main Street, Porterville, CA 93257 (559) 713-5800
If you need assistance or further information you may contact the Tulare County Superior Court Self Help Resource Center located at 3400 West Mineral King, Suite C, Visalia, CA 93291 (559) 737-5500
IN-STATE RESOURCES: (en espanol)
- Tulare County Superior Court [http://www.tularesuperiorcourt.ca.gov]: This is the official website for the Tulare County Superior Court. It has links to the Self-Help Resource Center and the Family Law Facilitator. It also has links to the Judicial Council court forms, special local forms, local court rules, information on filing fees and tentative rulings.
- Family Law Help: Judicial Council of California, Center for Families, Children and the Courts [http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/family/]: This division of the California Administration of the Courts provides general and specific information on family law matters. Step-by-step procedures for processing a case in family law are available at this site. The site now has fill out online and print Judicial Council forms. These forms will still need to be delivered in person or by mail to the Superior Court Clerk's Office for filing. Versions of all forms that can only be printed blank (and cannot be completed online) are also available.
- Court Forms: I-CAN! Legal [http://www.icandocs.org] or the Accesslaw website [http://www.accesslaw.com/forms.html] Both allow you to select and type online a Judicial Council legal form. I-CAN! Legal is a free online application that will fill out court forms for you by asking you simple questions and putting your answers on the forms in the correct place. The Accesslaw website does not provide instructions or assistance. At both sites, you will be able to type and print a form online. These forms will still need to be delivered in person or by mail to the Superior Court Clerk's Office for filing. You will also need to pay the appropriate filing fee, if applicable
- LawHelpCalifornia.org: [http://www.lawhelpCalifornia.org] LawHelpCalifornia.org provides clients and advocates with detailed referral information for over 500 legal aid, court-based programs, law libraries and lawyer referral services. The database is searchable by zip code and practice area and includes information regarding intake procedures, languages spoken and eligibility. The site also offers over 700 know your rights self-help resources for low and moderate income Californians.
- National Document Assembly Server: [http://www.hotdocs.com]. This website (HotDocs) helps people prepare legal documents using programmed templates. These templates include preparing a declaration for a domestic violence restraining order and many more
- California Statutes and Bills: [http://www.leginfo.ca.gov] Go here if you would like to research the California law (also known as statutes or the code) or to check on the latest status of a bill pending before the California legislature. The sections relating to divorce, custody, visitation and support are all in the Family Code under California Law.
Legal databases can be found at [http://law.slu.edu/library] or [http://www.hg.org] or [http://www.law.indiana.edu/v-lib/index.html] or [http://law.cornell.edu/] or [http://www.loc.gov/index.html]. You can use these sites to research the law.
- Child Support Help: California Department of Child Support Services: [http://www.childsup.cahwnet.gov] This site is designed to explain how the State of California and California counties can help you with the child support issues.
- Child Support: Connect with the California Department of Child Support Services: [http://www.childsup-connect.ca.gov]: This is California's child support self-service information system designed with the customer in mind. You can use this secure self-service website 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can update your account information, get individual case information, get payment information, make a payment, reset or change your PIN, and verify appointment dates and times. You will need your Social Security number (or participant ID) and personal information identification number (PIN) ready if you want to access case-specific information.
- California Guideline Child Support Payment Calculator: [http://www.childsup.cahwnet.gov/calculator]: The California Guideline Child Support Calculator is based on California Child Support Guidelines and can be used to estimate the amount of child support that may be ordered in your case. The Court Commissioner or Family Law Judge has the final authority to determine the amount of a child support order. This calculator provides only an estimate and is not a guarantee of the amount of child support that will be ordered. Other factors may affect the amount of child support awarded.
- General Legal Information: [http://www.calbar.org]: The State Bar of California provides consumer education pamphlets in print or online. Some titles include: How Can I Find and Hire the Right Lawyer? What Should I Know about Divorce and Custody? Can the Law Protect Me from Domestic Violence? What Can I Do if I Can't Pay My Debts?
- Options for Divorce in California: The Family Law Section of the State Board of California offers an on-line version of a brochure regarding options for proceeding with divorce in California. Go to www.calbar.org/famlaw and follow the instructions for viewing.
- Additional Legal Resources: Nolo Press [http://www.nolo.com] is a for profit business that helps individuals representing themselves by providing information and legal forms to accomplish simple legal tasks. Their products, or other up-to-date products created by other publishers specifically for California, are a good resource to get additional family-law related information while you are getting help from Family Court Services.
- Interesting Sites for Researching Real Property: [http://www.zillow.com] or [www.trulia.com] or [www.terabitz.com] or [www.lawresearch.com]. Use these sites to look up real property values and other information related to real estate.
- Locate a person: [http://www.zabasearch.com]. Use this website to try to locate a person.
- Workplace income information: [http://www.salary.com].
- Research car values: [http://www.kbb.com] (Kelly Blue Book) or [http://www.edmunds.com].
- Research job availability: [http://www.edd.ca.gov] or [http://www.ajb.org].
- Research licenses: [http://www.dca.ca.gov]. Locate licensees through the Dept. of Consumer Affairs.
- All state and public records: [http://www.searchsystems.net]. Use this site to research multiple web sites for state and public records.
- Social Security Death Records: [http://socialsecuritydeathrecords-search.com].
- Federal Inmate locator site: [http://www.bop.gov].
- Consumer's Guide to Legal Help on the Internet:
- [http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/public.html]: This American Bar Association Web Site can help you find self-help and legal information Web sites in many states. The site can also help you locate free and low-cost legal help in other states.
- National Resources for Self-Represented Litigants: [http://www.LawHelp.org]. This site contains information that helps people with low or moderate incomes to find legal resources.