Health & Safety

October 5, 2012

Navigate the legal process with free, court-sponsored assistance

by Capt. Matthew Mackey
452 AMW assistant staff judge advocate

If you are seeking assistance with identifying the proper legal forms to use, and/or need help completing legal forms that you intend to file in a California court, court-sponsored “self-help centers” are an excellent no-cost resource. Additionally, self-help centers regularly provide free, legal workshops and seminars on legal topics including small claims lawsuits, probating estates, divorce and guardianship. Many self-help centers also provide free or low cost mediation services.

Mediation can be especially beneficial if the two parties, through the use of an impartial mediator, are able to settle issues, thereby avoiding the need for each party to hire an attorney or file a lawsuit. Please remember that self-help center employees are usually not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice specific to your issue — they can only provide procedural assistance.

  • For those living in Riverside County, self-help centers are at located at the courthouses in Riverside, Murrieta, Banning, Blythe, Hemet and Indio. For courthouse addresses, visit www.riverside.courts.ca.gov.
  • In Orange County, self-help centers are located at the courthouses in Santa Ana, Laguna Hills, Orange, Fullerton and Westminster. Visit www.occourts.org/self-help/shselfhelp.html for courthouse addresses.
  • San Diego County has self-help centers in El Cajon, Vista, Chula Vista and multiple locations in the City of San Diego. Visit www.sdcourt.ca.gov for specific locations and hours of availability.
  • In Los Angeles County, self-help centers are located throughout the County. To find your nearest self-help center, visit: http://dca.lacounty.gov/SHLAC/SHLACLocations.html

If you live in a county other than the ones mentioned above, contact your county’s nearest courthouse for information on where and when your county’s self-help services are available.

If your issue specifically pertains to family law — like child custody, guardianship, spousal support and child support, California courts also provide no-cost, ‘family law facilitator’ departments that can assist with identifying proper forms, form completion and general, procedural questions. Family law facilitators are usually co-located in the self-help centers.

Finally, the California courts have an outstanding self-help website: www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp. In addition to providing an overview of most legal processes, the website has all the necessary ‘fillable’ PDF forms you may need for your specific legal action.

For more information, please contact your respective legal office:

For Category “A” Reservists:  951-655-4454 – located at 875 Adams Ave., Bldg. 115

For Guard members: 951-55-2308 – located at 1620 Graeber St. Bldg. 2270

For active duty members: 951-655-4479 – located at 875 Adams Ave., Bldg. 115




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