Oct 20, 2020
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Family Law Facilitator

Location: Civil and Family Law Courthouse, 3055 Cleveland Avenue, Santa Rosa CA 95403
Telephone & E-mail Hours: 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM Mon-Fri
(707) 521-6545  *See below for telephone instructions

 

FAMILY LAW FACILITATOR GUIDE TO REMOTE SERVICES

Guía de Servicios Remotos de la Consejería de Derecho Familiar

The Family Law Facilitator’s Office has suspended in-person services until further notice. At this time, we are providing assistance in family law matters by phone, e-mail and Zoom videoconference.

  • Do not submit questions about legal issues that need to be handled immediately.
  • Other issues may be time-sensitive, even though they are not emergencies. Your legal rights may “expire” while you are waiting for an answer from the Family Law Facilitator’s Office.

IMPORTANT NOTICE REGARDING SERVICES

If you have an attorney of record, the Family Law Facilitator’s Office cannot assist you.
Staff at the Family Law Facilitator’s Office can provide legal assistance to help you represent yourself in your family court case.

  • They are not your attorneys.
  • They cannot give you legal advice.
  • They do not go to court with you.
  • They are not responsible for the outcome of your case.

Services at the Family Law Facilitator’s Office are not confidential. There is no attorney-client relationship between you and any staff member.
Services at the Family Law Facilitator’s Office are neutral. Staff may assist both sides of a case.
You should obtain your own attorney if you want legal advice or strategy, to have a confidential conversation or to be represented by an attorney in court.

WHAT KIND OF HELP IS AVAILABLE?

Staff at the Family Law Facilitator's Office can:

  • • Provide you blank forms and filing instructions for most family law issues.
  • • Review your completed forms before you submit them to the Clerk’s Office for filing.
  • • Answer procedural questions about most family law issues.

The Family Law Facilitator’s Office is not currently assisting with case finalization (judgments). When we resume case finalization services, information will be posted on this web page and announced on our voicemail line.

HOW DO I GET REMOTE HELP?

Contact us, and a staff member will respond to you by phone or e-mail within three business days. If you would prefer to receive assistance by Zoom videoconference, we can arrange that for you.

By Voicemail: (707)521-6545

Leave a message with the following information and a staff member will call you back:

  • Your full name.
  • Your phone number.
  • The other party’s full name.
  • Your case number, if you have one.
  • A brief description of your issue.

By E-Mail:

Fill out our online intake form and a staff member will contact you by e-mail.
*You must have Adobe Reader or a similar PDF document reader to fill in the intake form.
*To save the filled out intake form right click on the filled out form, select "save as" and select a location on your computer to save the document to.
*Select the filled out intake form from your computer and attach that document on an email to the facilitator.

WHERE CAN I GET FORMS AND FILING INSTRUCTIONS RIGHT NOW?

You can download forms at the following web sites. Click on the links below:

  1. Sonoma County Forms Packets: The Sonoma County Superior Court provides fillable forms that can be printed after you complete them on your computer. Scroll down to “Family Law Forms Packets” and select the appropriate packet from the list.
  2. Judicial Council Forms: The Judicial Council of California provides fillable forms that can be printed after you complete them on your computer.
  3. Odyssey Guide & File: This is a free online forms preparation program. Answer a series of questions and forms are generated at the end of the interview.

We have written instructions to help you complete and file most forms. Click on the links below:

Instructions to File a Request for Telephone Appearance

Instructions to File a Summary Dissolution of Marriage

Instructions to File and Serve a Petition

Instructions to File and Serve a Declaration of Disclosure

Instructions to File and Serve a Request for Order

Instructions to File and Serve a Request for Temporary Emergency Custody Orders

Instructions to File and Serve a Responsive Declaration to Request for Order

Instructions to File and Serve a Wage Assignment for Spousal Support

Instructions to File a Stipulation for Custody and Visitation

Instructions to File a Stipulation for Child Support

Reimbursement of Child Care Costs sheet

Reimbursement of Health Care Costs sheet

Sample Custody Declaration

Sample Support Declaration

Sample Profit and Loss Statement

WHERE ELSE CAN I GET FREE OR LOW-COST FAMILY LAW LEGAL ASSISTANCE?

Remote family law legal assistance may be available to you through the following organizations:

Legal Aid of Sonoma County
General: (707) 542-1290
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders: (707) 595-6295
Elder Abuse Restraining Orders (707) 340-5610

Free Legal Services – Information, legal advice and assistance with applications for restraining orders. Assistance with other family law forms may be available to those who qualify.

Sonoma County Bar Association
(707) 546-5297

Lawyer Referral Services – For a $50 fee, you will receive a 30-minute consultation with an experienced attorney. There is no obligation to retain the attorney following that consultation, but if you choose to do so, the fee for representation is negotiated directly between you and that attorney.

Department of Child Support Services – Sonoma County
(866) 901-3212

Neutral assistance with establishing parentage and establishing and enforcing orders for child support.

Legal Document Assistants

A legal document assistant (“LDA”) is a non-lawyer authorized to assist with the preparation of legal forms and documents. LDAs can be found in the yellow pages or online and their fees vary. Note: Unlike a paralegal, LDAs do not work under the supervision of an attorney. LDAs are required to register with the Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder’s Office.

OTHER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Otras Preguntas Frecuentes/Más Comunes de Derecho Familiar

Is the Civil & Family Courthouse open?

The Civil & Family Courthouse is open for business; however, to protect the health and safety of the
public and court personnel, access to the building is restricted.
The Clerk’s Office is providing in-person services at the blue tent in front of the courthouse Monday
through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (If there is no tent outside, the clerk may have moved to the
courthouse lobby due to weather or air quality. Check at the front door.) All other court services,
including hearings, mediations and assistance from the Family Law Facilitator, are being provided
remotely.

How do I file documents with the court?

Documents may be submitted for filing by the following methods:
 
Online
Click here for information about e-filing and to access the e-filing portal.
 
Mail
Send your documents via U.S. Mail to:
Family Law Clerk’s Office
Civil & Family Courthouse
3055 Cleveland Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Be sure to include:
1. A check payable to “Superior Court” for any applicable filing fees;
2. The original and two copies of each document you are filing;
AND
3. A self-addressed envelope, with sufficient return postage, for the clerk to use in mailing the filed copies of your documents to you.

Drop Box
Leave your documents in the drop box outside the entrance to the:
Civil & Family Courthouse
3055 Cleveland Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Be sure to include:
1. A check payable to “Superior Court” for any applicable filing fees;
2. The original and two copies of each document you are filing;
AND
3. A self-addressed envelope, with sufficient return postage, for the clerk to use in mailing the filed copies of your documents to you.

In Person
Bring your documents to the blue tent in front of the Civil & Family Courthouse at 3055 Cleveland
Avenue in Santa Rosa. (If there is no tent outside, the clerk may have moved to the courthouse lobby due
to weather or air quality. Check at the front door.) You will be asked to wait outside while your
documents are processed inside.
Be sure to bring:
1. Payment for any applicable filing fees; AND
2. The original and two copies of each document you are filing..

Where can I go for help with e-filing?

If you have questions about e-filing procedures that are not already answered on the court’s E-filing Information and Frequently Asked Questions page, you can call the Clerk’s Office e-filing voicemail line at (707) 521-1050.
If you need technical support for e-filing, please contact your electronic filing service provider directly.

How do I calculate the filing fee(s) for my document(s)?

Go to the Statewide Civil Fee Schedule and scroll down to “Family Law Fees” to find your document(s) and the corresponding fee(s).
If you have questions about filing fees, call the Clerk’s Office at (707) 521-6630, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.

Why is my former lawyer still listed as my “attorney of record?”

Ending your attorney-client relationship does not automatically update court records. You must serve and file a Substitution of Attorney (Form MC-050) to notify the Court and the other party that you are now representing yourself.
To find out whether your former attorney is still your attorney of record:
(1) Ask your former attorney;
(2) Look up your case using the online case management portal;
OR
(3) Call the Clerk's Office at (707) 521-6630, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.
If your case is confidential, you will not be able to access information online or over the phone. You must bring photo identification to the blue tent in front of the Civil & Family Courthouse, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. (If there is no tent outside, the clerk may have moved to the courthouse lobby due to weather or air quality. Check at the front door.)

Where can I find information about the status of my case?

Information about documents that have been filed and events and hearings scheduled in your case is available through the court’s case management portal or by calling the Clerk’s Office at (707) 521-6630, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. If your case is confidential, you will not be able to access information online or over the phone. You must bring photo identification to the blue tent in front of the Civil & Family Courthouse, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. (If there is no tent outside, the clerk may have moved to the courthouse lobby due to weather or air quality. Check at the front door.)

Why can’t I access information about my case through the case management portal?

If your case is confidential, you will not be able to access information online. You must bring photo identification to the blue tent in front of the Civil & Family Courthouse, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. (If there is no tent outside, the clerk may have moved to the courthouse lobby due to weather or air quality. Check at the front door.)

If your case is not confidential, you may not have entered the case number or party name exactly as it appears in court records.

Here are some tips to help you search:

• Be sure to include the letters “SFL” before the numbers in family law cases and the letters “SPR” before the numbers in probate cases (guardianships and conservatorships).
  For example, search for “SFL123456” instead of “123456.”
• If your case number is SFL74801 or higher, add a zero before the first numerical digit.
  For example, search for “SFL075000,” instead of “SFL75000.”
• If searching by name for a party with multiple last names, try adding a hyphen or reversing the order of the last names.
  For example, if you get no results searching for “Mary Smith Jones,” trying searching for “Mary Smith-Jones,” “Mary Jones Smith” and “Mary Jones-Smith.”

If you are still unable to locate your case on the portal, call the Clerk’s Office at (707) 521-6630, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. You may have the wrong case number, your name may be misspelled in court records or there may be another issue.

What should I do if the court says it mailed a notice or document to me, but I never received it?

First, confirm that the court has your current mailing address. You can do this by calling the Clerk’s Office at (707) 521-6630, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. If your case is confidential, you will not be able to confirm your mailing address over the phone. You must bring photo identification to the blue tent in front of the Civil & Family Courthouse, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.(If there is no tent outside, the clerk may have moved to the courthouse lobby due to weather or air quality. Check at the front door.) 

If the court does not have your current mailing address, you must file a Notice of Change of Address or Other Contact Information.

Next, request copies of any notices or documents you did not receive. You can do this at the blue tent in front of the Civil & Family Courthouse, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. You will be charged 50 cents per page copied.

How can I get a restraining order?

Legal Aid of Sonoma County provides free legal assistance with applications for domestic violence restraining orders, civil harassment restraining orders and elder abuse restraining orders. If Legal Aid is able to assist you, they can give you legal advice and prepare your restraining order application for you. In some cases, Legal Aid can also provide an attorney to represent you in court at your restraining order hearing.
To find out if Legal Aid of Sonoma County can assist you, call:
• (707) 595-6295 if you are under the age of 60;
OR
• (707) 340-5610 if you are age 60 or older.
If Legal Aid is unable to assist you, self-help staff at the court can help you prepare your own restraining order application by explaining the restraining order process, providing you with forms and filing instructions, and reviewing your application to ensure you have completed it correctly before you file. For self-help assistance with a domestic violence restraining order, contact the Family Law Facilitator’s Office by scrolling to the section above labeled “How Do I Get Remote Help?” For self-help assistance with civil harassment restraining orders or elder abuse restraining orders, contact the Civil Self-Help Center.

How do I find out if the court granted my request for a restraining order or other temporary emergency orders?

If you request a restraining order or other temporary emergency (“ex parte”) orders, the results will be available after 2:00 p.m. on the date your request is reviewed. The results will be posted on the domestic violence and ex parte web page, and you can pick up your filed documents at the blue tent in front of the Civil & Family Courthouse Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.(If there is no tent outside, the clerk may have moved to the courthouse lobby due to weather or air quality. Check at the front door.)

If your case is confidential, you will not be able to view the results online. You must bring photo identification to the blue tent in front of the Civil & Family Courthouse, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

How can I have the opposing party personally served with documents?

The following people or agencies can personally serve the opposing party and sign your Proof of Service:

Any Adult Who Is Not a Party to Your Case

Any adult who is not a party to your case (or protected by your restraining order, if you have one) can personally serve your documents for you.

A Process Server

A professional process server can personally serve your documents for a fee. Process servers can be found in the yellow pages or online and their fees vary. Process servers are required to register with the Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder’s Office.

The Sonoma County Sheriff

You can request that the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office personally serve the opposing party with your documents, even while their office is closed to the public.

Restraining Orders

The sheriff’s office will serve a restraining order free of charge. You may submit your restraining order to the sheriff’s office by e-mail, fax or by scheduling an appointment for in-person delivery as described here.

Other Documents

The sheriff’s office will serve other legal documents for a fee of $40, unless the court has granted you a fee waiver. You may submit such documents to the sheriff’s office by mail only.

Send your documents via U.S. Mail to:

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office
ATTN: Civil Bureau
2796 Ventura Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Be sure to include:
1. Three copies of each document to be served;
2. Either a check payable to “Sonoma County Sheriff” in the amount of $40 or an endorsed filed copy of your Order on Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs (Form FW-003);
AND
3. A completed General Service Instructions form.

How do I attend my hearing or Family Court Services appointment and still adhere to social distancing practices?

All family law court hearings and mediations will be held remotely until further notice. Two weeks before your hearing or mediation appointment date, the Clerk’s Office will mail to you at the address you have on file with the court a Notice of Remote Hearing and/or Notice of Remote Child Custody Recommending Counseling (“CCRC”) Session with instructions for participating in your hearing or mediation appointment via videoconference or telephone.
All persons authorized to enter any court location must comply with all active orders of the Sonoma County Health Officer, including mandatory face coverings and social distancing, as well as any other health and safety measures required by the court.

Do I need a computer or smartphone to participate in my remote hearing or mediation session?

No, you do not need a computer or smartphone to participate in your remote hearing or mediation session. You can call in using any telephone, including a landline. Please refer to your Notice of Remote Hearing or Notice of Remote CCRC Session for instructions.

Where can I sign up for the class the judge ordered me to take?

52-week Batterer’s Intervention Program
If you were ordered to complete a 52-week batterer’s intervention program as part of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order, the class you take must be approved by the Sonoma County Probation Department.
Click here to view a list of programs approved by the probation department as of August 2020. This list may change periodically. It is your responsibility to confirm a particular program is still approved by the department before you enroll. You can reach the probation department at (707) 565-2149.
All Other Classes
Not every court order is the same. You must read your orders carefully to understand what you are required to do in your case.
If the judge ordered you to take a specific class by name (e.g. “Parenting Without Violence”), be sure to enroll in a class with that specific name. If the judge ordered you to take a class for a specific period of time (e.g. “five class sessions” or “a three-month course”), be sure to complete a course of that length. If you cannot find a class that meets the requirements specified in your order, or if the class is not available in the timeframe specified in your order, you can file a “Request for Order” to seek additional guidance from the judge.
If the judge’s order was more general (e.g. “complete an anger management class” or “take a co-parenting class”), you may be able to find a suitable course online and/or through one of the following resources:
www.familieschange.ca.gov:
  This web site was created in collaboration with the California Courts and provides age-appropriate information to help children, teens and parents deal with a family breakup.
• Your health insurance provider:
  Many healthcare providers offer classes on co-parenting and anger management. • Local nonprofit agencies: Local nonprofit agencies may offer classes about parenting, coping skills and/or learning to decrease anger.
• Local nonprofit agencies:
  Local nonprofit agencies may offer classes about parenting, coping skills and/or learning to decrease anger.

Where can I find someone to supervise my visitation?

Not every court order is the same. You must read your orders carefully to understand what you are required to do in your case.
Click here to watch a six-minute informational video that covers the basics of supervised visitation and exchange services in California.

Nonprofessional Supervision
If the judge ordered visitation supervised by a “nonprofessional provider,” that means a person who is not paid for providing supervised visitation services.

Unless otherwise ordered by the judge or agreed to by the parties, a nonprofessional supervisor must:
• Have no record of a conviction for child molestation, child abuse or other crimes against a person;
• Have proof of automobile insurance if transporting the child or children;
• Have no current or past court order in which the provider is the person being supervised;
AND
• Agree to adhere to and enforce the terms of the court order regarding supervised visitation.
For more information about the role and responsibilities of a nonprofessional supervisor, read the Judicial Council of California’s booklet, “Supervised Visitation: A Guide for Non-Professional Providers,” and share it with the person you want to supervise your visits.

Professional Supervision
If the judge ordered visitation supervised by a “professional provider,” that means a person paid for providing supervised visitation services or an independent contractor, employee, intern or volunteer operating independently or through a supervised visitation center or agency.
Unless otherwise ordered by the judge or agreed to by the parties, a professional supervisor must meet all the requirements of California Family Code § 3200.5. Talk to your proposed child care provider about whether they meet those requirements.
Starting January 1, 2021, professional supervisors must be registered as a TrustLine child care provider with the Department of Social Services. For more information about TrustLine or to find registered TrustLine providers, visit their web site or call (800) 822-8490.

Do I have to complete the mandatory Child Custody Recommending Counseling orientation again if I have already done it before?

If you completed the mandatory orientation within the last two years and know your orientation date, you may be excused from completing it again. If you completed the mandatory orientation more than two years ago, you must complete it again.

 

© 2020 Superior Court of Sonoma County