We provide legal advice and assistance with family law matters for eligible individuals who have
- Disputes over child custody
- Survivors of intimate partner violence that have family law issues
- Dissolution (divorce)
- Parentage cases when there are child custody issues that need to be resolved.
- Court ordered visitation that is being frustrated by the other parent
How To Get Help
Call to speak to our intake team, Monday through Friday 9 am – 5 pm
Call 1-877-534-2524 | TTY 1-800-735-2929
Or send an email using the contact form here.
Or come in to one of our 3 office locations.
Family Law Information Session
The Family Law Team hosts a general information session open to the public on the first Thursday of the month at 10 AM. Until further notice, the information session is held virtually via Microsoft Teams.
Free Family Law Information Presentation
Presentación Gratuita De Información Sobre Derechos De La Familia
Attendance is capped and advance registration is required. Please email FamilyLaw@lassd.org with the following information to register for a spot:
- Phone number (please specify if it is safe to leave a voicemail at the number you provide
- Email address
- Your language preference
- The zip code in which you reside
Someone will then contact you with your specific appointment slot.
Please note that this is an informational session only. No specific legal advice will be provided to participants. For advice specific to your case, please call our main intake line at 877-LEGAL-AID (877-534-2524) to be screened for eligibility. There is no guarantee of assistance or representation.
Self Help Resources
Obtaining Family Law Documents
If you already have a family law case open it may be helpful to have your most recent orders and any current filings available for your call with our family law team. If you do not already have these documents in your possession you can get copies of these documents from the courthouse. If your case is imaged and not confidential you can print them from any of the 4 Courthouse locations. Otherwise, you will have to go to the courthouse where the case is filed. There is a fee of $0.50 per page but you may qualify for a fee waiver if you complete and submit a Request to Waive Court Fees (https://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-feewaiver.htm?rdeLocaleAttr=en)
- San Diego County Family Law Facilitator’s Office [Family Self Help Center | Superior Court of California - County of San Diego]
- can help you fill out family law pleadings.
- Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinics [Domestic Violence Restraining Orders | Superior Court of California - County of San Diego]
- 500 Third Ave, Room 155, Chula Vista, CA 91910
- 1100 Union Street, 4th floor, room 416, San Diego, CA 92101
- 250 E. Main St., Family Law Business Office, El Cajon, CA 92020
- 325 S. Melrose, Adjacent to Civil Business Office, Vista, CA 92081
- San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program [San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program | Pro Bono Legal Services (sdvlp.org)]
- 707 Broadway Ste. 1400, San Diego, CA 92101
- Call: (619) 235-5656
- San Diego County Bar Association’ Lawyer Referral & Information Service [Find a Lawyer in San Diego (sdcba.org)]
- 401 West A St, San Diego, CA 92101
- Call: (800) 464-1529
- Their Modest Means Panel offers lower cost services to eligible individuals [Find a San Diego Family Lawyer | How Modest Means Works | SDCBA.org]
Helpful Information About Family Law
- What is the difference between a divorce and legal separation?
- A divorce ends a marriage. When a judge says the divorce is final, each spouse is considered a single person and either can remarry.
- A legal separation does not end a marriage. When a judge says the legal separation is final, the spouses are still married and neither may marry another person.
- What are the similarities between a divorce and legal separation?
- Whether you are filing for a divorce or legal separation, you can ask the court to make orders on custody/visitation, child support, spousal support, division of property and debts.
- Are there any requirements in filing for divorce or legal separation?
- If you are filing for divorce, you must have lived in the state of California for at least 6 months and in the county of San Diego for at least 3 months before filing for divorce. This is called the residency requirement.
- If you are filing for a legal separation, there is no residency requirement.
- Who may start a divorce or legal separation?
- Either spouse may start a petition for divorce or legal separation.
For additional information regarding divorce in California please visit the self-help guide from the California Courts: Divorce in California | California Courts | Self Help Guide.
- Why should I start a paternity petition?
- If a child is born outside of a marriage, a “petition to establish a parental relationship” establishes a legal bond between the child and its parents.
- A “judgment of parental relationship” may be necessary for child support, child custody and visitation orders, or some benefits, like certain Social Security benefits.
- Who may start a petition to establish a parental relationship?
- Either parent may start a petition to establish a parental relationship.
- In some instances, the County of San Diego may start a petition to establish a parental relationship in order to start a child support order.
For additional information regarding parentage cases in California please visit the self-help guide from the California Courts Parentage (Paternity) - paternity_famlaw_selfhelp (ca.gov)
- Who can file for a DV-TRO?
- Anyone who has experienced abuse from a person with whom they have a “close relationship” like a spouse, significant other (boyfriend/girlfriend), or specific family members (parent, child, sibling).
- What is abuse?
- Physically hurting or trying to hurt someone, intentionally or recklessly;
- Sexual assault;
- Making someone reasonably afraid that they or someone else are about to be seriously hurt (like threats or promises to harm someone); OR
- Behavior like harassing, stalking, threatening, or hitting someone; disturbing someone’s peace; or destroying someone’s personal property.
- If I file for DV-TRO against my partner, what orders can I ask the court to make about our child?
- You may ask the court to make orders about custody, visitation and child support.
- The Court may order you and your partner to attend mediation to figure out a parenting plan that will include legal custody, physical custody and visitation.
For additional information regarding domestic violence restraining orders in California please visit the self-help guide from the California Courts Domestic Violence - dv_abuse_selfhelp (ca.gov)
- Where should I file my case?
- You should start your petition in the court that your zip code is assigned to.
- ADM-254 Zip Code List (ca.gov)
- Is there a fee for filing a petition?
- Yes, there is a filing fee when you are starting a case and when you are answering a case.
- But, you may fill out an application to see if you qualify for a fee waiver. If approved, you do not have to pay any filing fees.
See the self-help guide for more information: Fee Waivers - getting_started_selfhelp (ca.gov)
Community Property/Community Assets/Community Debts - any asset or debt acquired by either spouse from the date of marriage to the date of separation, unless received as a gift or inheritance.
Dissolution of Marriage - means the same as divorce. It is the process by which a marriage is ended in the state of California.
Establishment of Parental Relationship – establishes a legal relationship between a parent and child, often referred to as a “paternity judgment.”
Judgment - is a court document letting you know that the case is done. Some examples of judgments are a Judgment Establishing a Parental Relationship or a Judgment of Dissolution.
Legal Custody - the right to make decisions about a child’s health, education and welfare.
Mediation/Family Court Services - an informal meeting involving a child’s parents and the mediator to discuss a parenting plan for the child and which parent should have legal/physical custody of the child and who should have visitation.
Request for Order (RFO) - a motion for temporary orders before trial, such as child custody/visitation, child support and spousal support. An RFO can also be filed after a judgment to modify or enforce orders.
Petition - the legal document to start a case.
Petitioner - the person who starts a case by filing the petition.
Physical Custody – describes the way the parents share time with the child(ren). The person with whom the children live with most of the time has “physical custody” and the other parent is the non-custodial parent.
Respondent - the party who “responds” to, or answers, a petition.
Response - the legal document to answer a case.
Separate Property - any property acquired before marriage, after separation, or gifts/ inheritances.
Summons - is the legal document letting you know that you have been sued, and your rights and duties upon filing or being served with the summons.
Visitation - the non-custodial parent’s time with the child.
Request a Presentation
Our staff give presentations on a variety of issues to community groups, service providers, and others in low-income communities.
Volunteer to Help
We can always use volunteer assistance. Please contact our pro bono team for opportunities!