Families Change - Providing information on divorce and separation for parents, teens and children
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Family Court Services Orientation - Child Custody Recommending Counseling
Family Law Division
The Family Law Division of the Santa Cruz Superior Court, located at the Watsonville Courthouse, handles a variety of family-related matters. Some of these case types include; ending a marriage or registered domestic partnership, identifying a child’s legal parents, determining custody and visitation issues, establishing or enforcing child and spousal support, dealing with domestic violence issues, adoptions and minor emancipations. All restraining orders are filed at the Watsonville Courthouse. For more information regarding restraining orders see the courts Restraining Order Division Page.
Family Law Information
- Birth Certificate
- Co-Parenting Class
- Ex-Parte Communication
- Ex-Parte Orders
- Parenting Classes
- Supervised Visitation
- Phone Appearance
For information regarding birth certificates, please contact the County of Santa Cruz Recorder's Office: (831) 454-2800. For more information, click on the link listed below.
In person class option:
- 1. How do I register for the class?
Pre-registration is required. To pre-register, simply fill out the registration form and mail with the payment to the address listed below.
Click here for the registration form in English
Click here for the registration form in Spanish.
- 2. How can I contact the program?
You can call the program at the following phone number (831) 454-1862 or by mail:
The Co-Parenting Class
P.O. Box 922
Soquel, CA 95073
- 3. What is the cost?
The class is $40.00 per person. The payment to attend the class will not be accepted at the door.
Online class option:
This class must be completed ONLY at the website listed below. It is the only on-line course approved by Santa Cruz Court. If you take a different class on-line it will not count towards the completion of your co-parenting requirement. This class takes approximately 4 hours to complete. It can be taken in English or Spanish. There is no cost for this class. To register for this class: · Sign up at www.parenting.FamiliesChange.ca.gov · Once you have completed this class, YOU need to print out your certificate of completion and file it at the Clerks’ Office at the Watsonville Courthouse, 1 Second Street, Rm. 300 in Watsonville.
- 1. How can I get a copy of my divorce decree?
You will need to fill out the copy/research request form listed below, with the case number and names of the parties. Please send the request form, along with a check not to exceed $75.00 written on the memo line and a self-addressed stamped envelope. We will also need to know what documents you would like copied and if you want us to send you a certified (raised seal) copy of the documents. The cost for a certified copy is $25.00 + $.50 per page.
Copy requests take six weeks to process. You can research information regarding your case on the Court's website.
- 2. Can I get copies from a Paternity case?
Paternity cases are confidential and only the parties involved in the case can have access to the file. If you are unable to come in person to view the file due to a disability or you are now living out of state, then you may submit your request in writing with a photocopy of your driver's license or other valid state issued photo identification.
- 3. What if I do not have the case number?
If you do not have the case number, the case information will need to be researched by our staff at the clerk's office. A charge of $15.00 is now required or you could research it yourself at the Watsonville Courthouse at no cost to you (unless you require copies).
- 4. Do you need a copy of the whole file or a certified copy?
It often depends on why you need the documents. We will need to know what documents you would like copied (certain items or the whole file), and if you want us to send you a certified (raised seal) copy of the documents. The cost is $25.00 + $.50 per page for a certified copy. Please send the copy/research request form, along with a check not to exceed $75.00 written on the memo line and a self-addressed stamped envelope. Please send your request in writing to the Family Law Court supervisor at the following address:
Family Law Court Supervisor
Family Law Division
Superior Court of California
1 Second Street , Room 300
Watsonville , CA 95076
Letters sent to the judge are ex-parte communication. They are considered improper contact, without notice to the other side, and will not be forwarded to the judge for review. The judge may or may not consider the letter at the next court hearing. If you want to submit information to the judge to consider, then it will need to be in the proper format, with service to the other side and filed with the Court. If you need assistance with the proper paperwork, and you are self–represented, you may contact the Court's Self-Help Center.
An ex-parte hearing is an urgent request for court orders, usually when a child is in physical or mental danger, or there is a threat of abduction. It is a request by one party with short notice to the opposing side. See Local Rule 3.1.12. Ex parte hearings are generally scheduled at 1:00 PM, Monday through Friday.
- 1. When and how do I give notice to the other party?
Notice to the opposing party must be provided by 10:00 AM the day before the ex-parte hearing. The moving attorney or self-represented party must give notice of the ex-parte application to the opposing attorney or self-represented party prior to submission of the request to the court, except where it is impossible to give notice. The different types of notice accepted by the Court are indicated on Local Court Form SUPCV 420.
Click here for the form.
- 2. When and how do I give notice to the Court?
The same day you give notice to the opposing party, you must call the ex-parte clerk at the Watsonville Court by 11:00 AM to inform the clerk's office that you have an ex-parte hearing the next day.
To reach the Ex Parte clerk call 831-786-7200 and listen for the phone prompt to Watsonville ex-parte. The message will give you instructions regarding what information the court needs. You will be leaving this information on the ex-parte voicemail.
- 3. When and where do I submit my paperwork?
All ex-parte moving papers shall be submitted to the Watsonville clerk's office no later than 3:00 PM the day before the ex-parte hearing. You will need two copies, one copy to keep for your records, the other copy to give to the other side at the ex-parte hearing.
The person filing for the ex parte must provide a copy of the moving papers to the other side no later than 3:00 PM the day before the ex parte hearing. The papers may be delivered in person, by fax or by email.
- 4. When and where do I file my response to the ex-parte application?
Opposing attorneys or self-represented parties shall submit their objections to the moving papers as soon as possible after notice is received. Documents shall be submitted to the Watsonville clerk's office no later than 10:00 AM the day of the hearing.
- 5. Can I bring my children to Court?
Children are not allowed in the courtroom.
- 6. What is the filing fee to process my paperwork?
There is a fee for the ex parte hearing, payable at the time of filing, unless you have a waiver of fees on file. Refer to the Judicial Council Web Site link for the current statewide fee schedule or you may ask the Court to waive the filing fee if your household income falls below certain guidelines. For information and to obtain forms for a fee waiver, visit the Judicial Council Web Site.
Here you will find a list of local nonprofit agencies offering a variety of parenting classes. A Parenting After Separation web site, maintained by the state Judicial Council website, is also provided for parents, youth and children. Remember, if the court orders you to take a parenting class, you must take the type of class you were ordered to complete. For court ordered parenting classes, an on-line classes is usually not accepted unless specifically ordered, however the online class offered by the state is a good compliment to an in person class. If you are ordered to take the Co-Parenting Class, usually as part of your divorce or before filing a future custody/visitation motion, then this is a separate class not included here. See the Co-Parenting Information Section for that specific class information.
The court may have ordered you and the other parent to set up supervised visitation. Your court order should say if you need to use a Professional Supervised Visitation Provider (someone who will be paid to be at the visits) or a Non Professional Supervised Visitation Provider (usually a family member or friend). Professional Providers must complete certain criteria and education/training requirements; the list maintained by the court contains providers who have completed this education. Non Professionals also must meet certain criteria.
The lists and criteria for each are provided here:
State Judicial Council Brochure Supervised Visitation and You
Family Law Appearances by Phone:
1) Status Conferences: You may appear by phone without a formal court request, however you must contact CourtCall to set up and pay an approximate $80 fee. 1-888-882-6877.
2) Family Law Motion/Court Date (Non Department of Child Support): No later than 10 days before the court date, you must file with the local court form SUPCV 1093, Request and Order for Telephone Appearance, to request to appear by phone. The cost for filing this form is $20, please include a check for this fee or complete a Fee Waiver. Note: you do not want to delay, file as early as you can. If approved, you then must contact CourtCall to set and pay an approximate $80 fee. 1-888-882-6877.
3) Department of Child Support Motion/Court Date: No later than 10 days before the court date you must contact the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) at 1-866-901-3212 to request a phone appearance. Note: you do not want to delay, make this request to DCSS as soon as you can. DCSS will then contact the court Commissioner and let you know if your request is approved. After you receive approval from DCSS you must contact CourtCall to set up and pay the approximate $80 fee. 1888-882-6878.
4) Fee Waiver: If you would like to ask CourtCall to waive their fee, you are responsible for applying to the court for a Fee Waiver, and then sending CourtCall the approved Fee Waiver. To apply for a Fee Waiver you must use state forms FW-001, Request to Waive Court Fees, and FW-003, Order on Court Fee Waiver, www.courts.ca.gov/forms.