Sep. 2, 2014
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Self-Help

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 for the following legal issues:

  • Family Law: Including, but not limited to, divorce, child support, child custody
  • Evictions (residential)
  • Name Changes/Gender Change
  • Emancipation
  • Guardianship of the person
  • Restraining Orders: Domestic Violence, Civil Harassment, Elder Abuse
  • Small Claims: Limited hours - see below
  • Limited Civil (contract cases): Limited hours - see below
  • Conservatorship of the person: Limited hours - see below
  • Provide community and legal resources

Please read the "come prepared section" at the bottom of this page.
In general please note the following:

  • 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 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. 

Santa Cruz Self Help Workshops

Informational workshops are offered monthly at the Law Library in Santa Cruz, 701 Ocean Street, Room 70, basement.  The three current informational workshops include a Divorce Workshop, Small Claims Workshop, and a Civil Answer Workshop.   You do not need to sign up before hand.  The yearly schedule can be found here:

Divorce Workshop  Civil Workshop Small Claims Workshop

 

Hours and Locations: Small Claims, Civil, Conservatorships

Small Claims Program:

  • Small Claims Advisor Phone Line: 831-786-7370. Phone Consultation Tuesday 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM.
  • Messages can be left at anytime. Calls are returned once a week.
  • Watsonville: Walk in assistance Tuesday and Thursday 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM, only after phone consultation.
  • Santa Cruz Only: Evening Workshops once every other month in the Law Library at 701 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz: Workshop Schedule

Civil Program:

  • Watsonville: Walk in assistance Tuesday and Thursday 8:30 to11:30 AM.
    Breach of contract (collection) cases only.

Conservatorship/Elder Abuse Program:

  • Walk in assistance Monday AND Thursday 8:30-11:30 at the Watsonville Courthouse.
  • Conservatorship (of the person) and Limited Conservatorship.

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:

_______________________________________________________________________

Please read the following information so that you can have the best possible experience at the Self Help Center.

How to come prepared to use 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 pmfor 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?  The Language Access program at the SHC assists Spanish speaking customers complete court forms.  Staffing for this program is limited and you MAY be required to complete some information on your own. 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 www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm and local Santa Cruz Superior Court forms at www.santacruzcourt.org

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 are also closed in the afternoon the third Tuesday of each month.  Please check our web site at www.santacruzcourt.org/self-helpfor our monthly calendar. We apologize for any inconvenience.

     

Contact Information

Office Location:
Superior Court of California,
County of Santa Cruz
1 Second Street, Room 301
Watsonville, CA 95076
Map

Mailing Address:
Superior Court of California,
County of Santa Cruz
Self Help Center
1 Second Street, Room 301
Watsonville, CA 95076

(831) 786-7200 (option 4) 

Hours of operation:

Monday – Thursday

8:30 AM to 11:30 AM and 1 PM to 3 PM

Closed 3rd Tuesday afternoon of the month and every Friday.

August

September

© 2014 Superior Court of Santa Cruz County