These links provide online access to California family law resources that Judges, lawyers, mediators, and self-represented parties must or may use in proceedings for Legal Separation and Dissolution of Marriage or Domestic Partnerships, and other family law matters.
Court Forms, Rules, Laws, Courthouses, and Self Help Centers
California Superior Court Self Help – Provides information about California’s court system, lawyers, legal aid and other legal help from the court. Includes preliminary and detailed instructions on how to prepare to go to court, research the law, and resolve dispute without going to court. A great starting place for understanding the system, process, and options.
California’s Judicial Council Forms – The uniform statewide family law forms that are used for uncontested and contested cases including, but not limited to, the Petition, Summons, UCCJEA Declaration, Response, Declaration of Disclosure, Requests for Orders, Form Interrogatories, Stipulations, Waivers, Substitution of Attorneys, Judgments, etc. Many of the Family Law Judicial Council forms are mandatory, others are optional.
California Rules of Court – These are uniform rules of procedure and conduct that apply to all parties, their lawyers, and witnesses, and govern California’s court proceedings, including the filing, hearing, and conclusion of family law matters throughout the state. It’s critical to note that, the Judicial Council has exempted Family Code matters from many of California’s Rules of Court that apply to general civil cases. (See CRC 1.6(4) – “‘General civil case’ as used in California Rules of Court does not include Family Code proceedings.) **If you are self-representing, conduct independent research to determine which of the California Rules of Court apply and do not apply to family law matters.
California Superior Courts Local Rules – Local court rules govern the operation and procedures for processing lawsuits in a particular county. These rules may require parties to prepare additional local forms that are not used for the same types of matters processed elsewhere in the state. “Duly-adopted local court rules have the force and effect of law to the extent consistent with statewide statutes and the California Rules of Court.” But, superior courts do not have the authority to adopt rules that conflict with statutes (California Family Code, Evidence Code, Code of Civil Procedure, etc.) or the California Rules of Court. Some courts of appeal also have internal operating procedures that supplement their local court rules.
California Superior Court Locator and Websites – Provides links to the Superior Court county websites and identifies the district appellate court that hears appeals of cases originating in a particular county. Local court websites provide location and contact information, judge and commissioner’s biographies, local rules and forms, and other important information. Most county court websites also provide online access to case information including registers of actions, court dates, party information, and more.
California Courts of Appeal – The appellate court is the court that hears appeals of trial courts’ decisions. “California Appellate Courts Case Information System provides case information for California Supreme Court and Court of Appeal cases.” An online regional map tells you which appellate court may hear an appeal of your case. Once you select the appropriate district’s link on the website, you can access the appellate district’s local court rules and procedures.
California Family Code – The Family Code is the newest legal code enacted by the California State Legislature in 1992, and is derived from former code sections of the Probate Code, Civil Code, Code of Civil Procedure, and articles of the Constitution. It is “stautory” law that applies to family law matters like Legal Separation, Divorce, Dissolution of Domestic Partnerships, Paternity, Child Custody, etc. Other codes applicable to family law cases include, among others, California Evidence Code and California Code of Civil Procedure.
California Appellate Court Slip Opinions – Published decisions written by the California Supreme Court and Appellate Courts that are also referred to as court opinions, case law, and precedence. Court opinions guide judges and parties when deciding legal issues. “Depending on the relationship between the deciding court and the precedent, case law may be binding or merely persuasive.”
The State Bar of California is the official attorney licensing agency responsible “for managing the admission of lawyers to the practice of law, investigating complaints of professional and prescribing appropriate discipline.” It publishes the California Rules of Professional Conduct that govern the conduct of lawyers, maintains an online attorney directory that provides lawyer profiles with addresses, phone numbers, certifications, license status, and records of any disciplinary action, and links to find legal help throughout the state.
Child Support Calculator
DissoMaster – DissoMaster is the most widely used child and temporary spousal support calculator in California that is certified by the Judicial Council. The presumptively correct amounts of child and temporary spousal support are based on algebraic formulas so family law judges, attorneys and parties rely on this computer software to run the support calculations. The software is available at most courthouses in the self help centers.
Court Filing, Personal Service, and Court Telephonic Appearances
Onelegal.com – A private company that lawyers and self-represented parties may use to file their legal documents with the courts. Orders are placed online, and documents may be uploaded electronically or sent to Onelegal via fax. Licensed process servers are available to personally serve legal pleadings, and will prepare, and upon request, file proofs of service with the court. Onelegal also provides party research and document retrieval from courts across the country.
CourtCall – A private court approved organization that enables attorneys or self-represented parties to appear at court proceedings by telephone. By paying a fixed fee in advance, an attorney or unrepresented party can secure a place on the court’s telephonic hearing calendar and make an appearance without leaving their home, office, or other convenient location. Parties seeking to make a “telephonic” or remote appearance must review and comply with California Rules of Court and their Local Court Rules.
Legal Research and Educational Tools
California County Public Law Libraries – County law libraries provide free access to legal materials, which often includes legal treatises that lawyers use daily to research complicated legal issues (California Family Law Practice (CFLR), Family Law (The Rutter Group California Practice Guide), and CEB Practice Books) periodical articles, legal encyclopedias, ALR Annotations, Restatements, and Looseleaf services. Sacramento Law Library has a robust catalog of guides to help DIY divorcing parties and online access to a number of periodicals.
Cornell Law School, Legal Information Institute – Is a nonprofit that produces and maintains free legal collections online, including state laws, a legal dictionary, legal encyclopedia, and a lawyer directory.
Online Programs about California Family Law
California Lawyers Association – The primary provider of continuing legal education for The State Bar of California, California Lawyers Association provides continuing legal education programs that attorneys and self-represented parties may use to learn the basics and developments in California law. These programs can be especially helpful to those with complex legal issues.
CalPERS – The California Public Employees Retirement System
A Guide to CalPERS Community Property – CalPERS’ publication for members, nonmember spouses, and attorneys that explains methods and requirements for dividing community property CalPERS benefits in legal separation, divorce or the dissolution of domestic partnerships. (For information on California employee savings plans like, the Supplemental Income Plan, contact the plan administrator.)
CalSTRS – The California State Teachers’ Retirement System
CalSTRS Community Property Guide for California Educators Involved in Divorce or Separation – a guide published by CalSTRS that gives members and nonmember spouses an overview of the benefit programs available, and “illustrates how CalSTRS retirement benefits can be affected by divorce, legal separation or termination of domestic partnership.” It describes methods used to divide community property, and explains what happens when a member or nonmember spouse dies.
It also may help while drafting of court orders and completing requisite forms.
Superior Court of California, Contra Costa, Joinder of a Pension Plan – informative brochure with universal principles that may be used in other California counties by those who need to join CalSTRS in order to divide community property benefits
(I’m not affiliated with the organizations listed above, and do not receive compensation for sharing this information with you. This list is not intended to be exhaustive. Please exercise due diligence and conduct independent research to identify other relevant links and resources to use in your family law matter.)