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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. Fax filings received between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on a court day will be filed as of that court day. Any fax filing received after 4:00 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 34.

Domestic violence, harassment, workplace violence and private postsecondary school violence hearings are set on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in Courtroom 34.

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

Once a petition has been filed, either party may ask the court to make new orders or change existing orders by filing a Request for Order (FL-300) and scheduling a court hearing. The request can be about child custody, visitation (parenting time), child support, spousal or partner support, property, finances or other matters.

Complete the Request for Order (FL-300) and any additional forms that you need to file. For more information on completing the form, read the Information Sheet for Request for Order (FL-300-INFO). Make at least two (2) copies of the completed forms and take them to the Family Law Department for filing. You can take them to the clerk’s office in person, mail them, or file them by fax by registering with Official Payments Corporation.

The hearing on the Request for Order will be scheduled in the assigned Courtroom unless the Department of Child Support Services is involved in the case and child support is the issue you are asking the court to make orders on, then the case will be heard in Courtroom 34.

The fee for filing the Request for Order is listed on the court’s fee schedule. If the request is asking the court to modify or enforce custody or visitation, an additional fee of $25 will be charged as set forth in Government Code Section 70678. An additional fee of $30 pursuant to Government Code Section 68086(a)(1) for the reasonable costs of court reporter services provided at the court’s expense for a hearing lasting one hour or less will be charged when the Request for Order is filed. If the Request for Order is being scheduled on a date when another Request for Order in the same case is already scheduled, the $30 fee will not be charged.

Once filed, the Request for Order must be served on the other party. You cannot serve the papers. You must have someone else who is at least 18 years old serve the papers on the other party. For more information about service, please read the Information Sheet for Request for Order (FL-300-INFO). The other party must be served at least 16 court days before the hearing if they are served by personal service or 16 court days plus 5 calendar days before the hearing if they are served by mail. Have the person who does the service complete a proof of service form and file it with the court at least 5 court days before the hearing.

If you are not able to have the other party served by the deadline for service and you need to ask the court to continue your hearing to another date so that you can have the other party served, you can use the form Request and Order to Continue Hearing on Request for Order. You can only use this form to ask the court to continue the Request for Order if you have not served the other party and if the court DID NOT make any temporary emergency (ex parte) orders pending the hearing. There is a $20 fee to continue the hearing.

If the court has issued temporary emergency (ex parte) orders on your Request for Order and you need to ask the court to continue your hearing, you must complete the form Request and Order to Continue Hearing and Extend Temporary Emergency (Ex Parte) Orders (FL-306). The request must be submitted to the judge for decision and you must schedule an ex parte hearing and give notice to the other party.

Family Law Appeals

What is an appeal? It is important to understand that an appeal is NOT a new trial and you will not be permitted to introduce new evidence. An appeal is a request for a review of a court’s decision by a different court. The court that hears your appeal is known as a "higher court," an "appellate court," and/or a "reviewing court.” A party may appeal an unfavorable judgment and certain orders in an unlimited civil case (such as a civil case involving an amount over $25,000 or a family law case) made in the Superior Court. Generally, the appeal must be based on an argument that a legal error was made by the Superior Court.

To appeal from a Superior Court decision in a Family Law case, the appellant must file a Notice of Appeal in the Superior Court Appeals Unit. A notice of appeal tells the other party in the case and the Superior Court that you are appealing the decision of the Superior Court. You may use Judicial Council form Notice of Appeal/Cross-Appeal (Unlimited Civil Case) (APP-002).

The Notice of Appeal must be filed within 60 calendar days after the mailing or personal service of notice of entry of the judgment. If no notice was mailed or personally served, the Notice of Appeal must be filed within 180 calendar days after entry of judgment by the court.

The fee for filing an appeal from a Superior Court decision is $775.00 (Government Code section 68926 and 68926.1) payable to the District Court of Appeal and $100 payable to the Ventura Superior Court as deposit for the cost of preparation of the clerk’s transcript (Government Code Section 68926.1). Both checks must be presented to the superior court clerk at the time that the Notice of Appeal is filed.

Filing of a Notice of Appeal does not stop enforcement of the judgment. You must still comply with all court orders.

Unlimited civil appeals, including Family Law and Probate matters, are heard in at the 2nd District Court of Appeal, Division Six, 200 East Santa Clara Street, Ventura, CA 93001.

If you do not have an attorney, see: Civil Appellate Practices and Procedures for the Self-Represented Litigants

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) 289-8735.

Alternative Methods of Resolving Disputes in Family Law Cases

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

© 2015 Superior Court of Ventura County