A A A   
Family Law
General filing information including divorce and restraining orders

Dissolution, better known as divorce, divides the assets and debts of a couple, determines custody and visitation rights of their children, sets child and spousal support, and returns the couple to the status of unmarried.

Legal separation divides the assets and debts of a couple, determines custody and visitation rights of their children, sets child and spousal support, but leaves the couple legally married.

Nullity restores a couple to the status of never having been married.

A parentage action establishes who are the parents of a child and determines child custody and visitation.

The following information applies to dissolution, Legal Separation, Nullity, Civil Harassment and Domestic Violence. The fee for filing a petition is listed on our fee schedule, except for Domestic Violence for which there is no fee. If you feel you cannot afford to pay the filing fee, you may ask the clerk for an application for waiver of court fees. There is no cost for this form.

The fee for filing a Petition for Summary Dissolution is listed on our fee schedule.

There are two types of restraining orders in family law. A domestic violence proceeding seeks to obtain an order to protect a person from physical violence from a family member (excluding nieces and nephews) or a person they may have lived with or had a dating relationship. A civil harassment restraining order seeks to protect a person from the actions of another whose intent is to annoy, alarm or verbally abuse the person seeking such an order.

Note: For assistance in preparing your restraining order documents for filing with the court, please contact the District Attorney Victim Services Unit in Room 311 of the Hall of Justice Building at the Ventura Government Center.

When filing your documents with the clerk of the court, you will need to present an original and two copies of each form. The original will remain with the court and the copies will be made to look like the originals and returned to you. One copy is for your file and the other is to be served on the other party.

Ex-parte applications must be filed before the hearing.

To file a document by fax, you must be registered with Official Payments Corp. To register, please call 1-855-467-2329 or visit their Web site at www.officialpayments.com. If you are already registered, you may fax your document by calling 1-800-530-3202 for Ventura. You will receive a confirmation when the fax or filing reaches the court. Any documents received after 5:00 p.m. will be filed as of the next court day.

Request for continuances may require a Declaration and Order or Stipulation and Order. The clerk cannot grant a continuance.

Forms are available free of charge at the Forms Kiosk located in the Ventura Hall of Justice in room 210. Forms may also be filled out and printed from this web site. Forms for Family Law may be handwritten in a legible form. The Court reserves the right to reject documents determined to be illegible. Typewriters are available for use by the public in the Law Library, for a nominal fee. There are no typewriters available in the Ventura clerk's office.

Please read our Limitation on Counter Filings.

Court Dates and Times

Request for Order hearings are set on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in Courtrooms 31, 32, 33 and 35.

Hearings involving the Department of Child Support Services are set on Tuesday and Thursday in Courtroom 36.

Domestic violence, harassment, workplace violence and private postsecondary school violence hearings are set on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in Courtroom 36.

Ex-parte hearings scheduled in Courtrooms 31, 32, 33 and 35 require a reservation. To make a reservation, contact the Judicial Secretary for the assigned courtroom.

Types of Service

The Summons and Petition may be served by the Sheriff, Marshal, registered process server or anyone over the age of 18 who is not a party to the action. The original proof of service must be filed with the court to obtain a judgment against the respondent.

Notices may be served by personal service or by first-class mail. A proof of service or declaration of mailing must be filed with the court prior to the hearing date.

Responses and Answers

If you have been served with a Summons and Petition and want to respond, forms are available in the clerk's office. Be sure to let the clerk know which type of Summons and Petition you have been served. Failure to file a response may lead to a judgment being entered against you. The filing fee to file a response is listed on our fee schedule.

Request for Order

A Request for Order must be filed at least 16 court days before the hearing and must contain the correct date, time and courtroom for the hearing.

A Request for Order must be served at least 16 court days before the hearing date. A proof of service must be filed with the court prior to the hearing date.

The fee for filing a motion is $60.00 if the first appearance fee has already been paid.

Request for continuances may require a Declaration and Order or Stipulation and Order. The clerk cannot grant a continuance.

Ex-parte motions are heard either by appointment, or as a "walk thru." For information on an Ex-parte application you can obtain instructions on "How to Get Emergency or Ex-Parte Orders" from the clerk.

Family Law Appeals

In an appeal, a higher court reviews the order or judgment of a lower court. Any party may appeal from an unfavorable decision based upon whether there was enough evidence to support the judgment or whether errors of law were committed during or before trial which harmed the appealing party.

The fee for filing an appeal on a Superior Court decision is $655.00. The clerks do not have forms for filing an appeal.

On a decision of the Superior Court, the notice of appeal must be filed within 60 days after the mailing or personal service of the entry of judgment. If a Notice has not been mailed or personally served, the appeal period is 180 days from the entry of judgment by the court. Permission to file late is rarely given. Filing of a notice of appeal does not stop enforcement of the judgement. You must still comply with all court orders.

Superior Court Self-Help Centers

The Superior Court has Self-Help Centers, established to help people representing themselves choose and complete the correct legal forms. You may also ask the clerk for information regarding classes and workshops conducted weekly to help you begin your divorce case, ask the court for child custody or support, or obtain a final judgement.

How to Get Legal Help

Brochures are available in the clerks office which provide information on free or low cost legal assistance.

A direct phone line to the Ventura County Bar Association is available in the Ventura Clerk's office where individuals may request referrals for low cost legal assistance.

You may also find legal guides and references in the Ventura County Law Library which is located in the Hall of Justice at 800 South Victoria Avenue in Ventura. The law library is open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 am to 8:00 p.m., Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Saturdays from 9am to 4pm.

Book stores also sell legal books and references.

Family Mediation: Child Custody Recommending Counseling

Introduction

Parents, and children six years of age and older, must participate in a special kind of mediation process known as Child Custody Recommending Counseling whenever a court order about child custody or visitation is requested in an Order to Show Cause, Notice of Motion, or Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order. The Judge will not make any orders about custody and visitation until this process has been completed.

Parents who have not previously participated in custody and visitation mediation in Ventura County are also ordered to participate in an Orientation. The Orientation explains the Child Custody Recommending Counseling process, and helps parents to prepare so that they can get the maximum benefit from it.

Child Custody Recommending Counseling, and Orientation, are free services provided by the Family Court Services staff of the Ventura Superior Court.

Summary of Procedures

The parents meet with a particular kind of mediator known as a Child Custody Recommending Counselor (CCRC). All CCRC’s have Masters’ Degrees in such fields as Marriage and Family Therapy and Social Work. They use specialized education and experience to try to resolve disagreements, and to help parents create a plan that is in the best interests of their child or children.

Children six years of age and older are customarily interviewed in private by the CCRC, but do not participate in the discussions conducted with the parents.

The CCRC will review the pleadings and documentary evidence in the court file if they have been filed within the time deadlines set by law. During the session, the CCRC will gather additional information about the issues that brought the family to the Court, as well as about such things as parenting history, needs of the children, and school and work schedules.

The CCRC may obtain information without the parents’ permission from anyone with knowledge about alleged domestic violence (including child abuse). The CCRC also has discretion to obtain criminal history information. Other collateral contacts may be made when both parents agree.

If parents agree on some or all of the issues, the CCRC will prepare a document for the Judge to approve containing those agreements. Parents can review the document with their attorney before signing it. If parents are unable to reach an agreement about some or all of the issues, the CCRC will make a written recommendation about them and give it to the Judge. Parents will receive a copy of the recommendation before the hearing, and either of the parents, or the Judge, may ask the CCRC to testify about the basis for the recommendation. That testimony will be considered, along with the evidence and argument of the parents, when the Judge decides if the recommendations should be adopted or modified.

Confidentiality

If parents reach an agreement on all issues, everything discussed with the parents in the mediation will remain confidential, and information the CCRC receives from children will not be disclosed to the parents or others. If a recommendation is necessary, then the CCRC can be asked to testify about what the parents and children said in the mediation, as well as about the reasons for the recommendation.

Exceptions: Regardless of whether or not an agreement is reached, there is no confidentiality for information received from parents or children concerning sexual, emotional, or physical abuse or neglect of a child, and reports about it may be made to the Court and appropriate authorities. Information received about elder abuse, and certain threats of behavior related to suicide and serious bodily injury, may also be reported. The CCRC will discuss what happened in the session, and the basis for the agreement or recommendation, with the parents’ attorneys.

For More Information

Detailed rules and information about the Child Custody Recommending Counseling and Orientation is contained in Ventura Superior Court Local Rules Sections 9.30 through 9.35 which may be viewed on another part of this website.

Family Court Services may be contacted at (805) 662-6694.

Alternative Methods of Resolving Disputes in Family Law Cases

For frequently asked questions about Family Law, please visit our FAQs page.

© 2012 Superior Court of Ventura County