This manual (written November, 2012, forms updated January 2019) is
for formerly incarcerated parents in California who want to reestablish and
strengthen a connection with their minor children upon their release from prison
or jail. We hope that this manual will give you the information and tools you
need to start having visits with your children.
This manual provides current information to the best of our ability.
However, laws and procedures change frequently. It is your responsibility to
check relevant legal cases, codes, court rules and forms when using this manual.
Section 1: Using this manual: the three courts and which sections apply to each ...................... 2
Section 2: Getting started ............................................................................................................... 2
Section 3: Reunification after release: an overview ..................................................................... 3
Section 4: Getting an informal visiting schedule ......................................................................... 3
Section 5: Getting a court order: an overview .............................................................................. 4
Section 6: Juvenile dependency court: Reunification after release ............................................. 5
Section 7: Juvenile dependency court: if you have an attorney ................................................... 5
Section 8: Juvenile dependency court: if you are representing yourself .................................... 5
Section 9: Probate court: Getting a visitation order .................................................................... 6
Section 10: Probate court: Termination of guardianship ............................................................ 7
Section 11: Family court: Getting a visitation order in a family court case already filed .......... 9
Section 12: Family court: Filing a new lawsuit in family court to get a visitation order ........... 9
Section 13: Family court: Filing motion papers in family court to get a visitation order ........ 11
Section 14: Preparing for the court hearing ................................................................................ 14
Section 15: The court hearing itself ............................................................................................ 16
Section 16: Enforcing your order cooperatively ........................................................................ 17
Section 17: Going back to court .................................................................................................. 18
Conclusion .................................................................................................................................... 18
Form JV-180
Juvenile dependency court addresses
Petition for order re guardianship visitation (probate court)
Family law facilitators
Pleading on joinder
Order on joinder
4400 Market Street
Oakland. CA 94608
Phone: (415) 255-7036
Fax: (415) 552-3150
There are three different courts that might
be involved with the custody of children of
incarcerated parents. This manual provides
information about all three courts:
The juvenile dependency court is the
court where Child Protective Services (CPS)
works. CPS may cause a “dependency petition”
about your child to be filed if it believes that your
child is abused or neglected.
The probate court hears guardianship
petitions filed by private parties, such as relatives
or friends, who want to be appointed guardian of
your child.
The family court is the court where
divorces (dissolutions of marriage) are filed, as
well as dissolutions of domestic partnerships. It
also hears child support cases and “paternity”
cases, now known as Petitions to Establish
Parental Relationship. If CPS or guardianships are
not involved, then a custody or visitation case will
be heard in the family court.
Some sections of this manual apply to all
courts. Other sections apply only to one. If you
know which court your child’s case is in, you only
have to read the general sections and the sections
that concern that court. The name of the section
will tell you which court it is about. If the section
name does not mention a specific court, it is for
every court.
In every case, we recommend that you read
everything that applies to your situation before
sending any forms into the court.
The first steps are to (1) locate your child
and your child’s caregiver and (2) find out
whether or not there is already a court order in
existence that has given someone authority over
your child.
Locating your child: Not all parents
know where their child is, or who is caring for him
or her. Without this information, there is nothing
you can do. You will need this information to
reach out to the caregiver to make your request for
visits. You will also need this information so you
can serve legal papers on the caregiver.
Unfortunately, there are no official services that
we know of that will help you to locate your child,
unless there is an agency that is already involved
(such as Child Protective Services or a Child
Support agency). If this is the case, you can
contact that agency for help, by writing, calling or
visiting that office. If not, you will have to rely on
your own resources, such as family and friends, to
locate your child and the caregiver. Give your
helpers all of the information you have (names,
dates of birth, relatives’ names, addresses and
phone numbers, etc.) of people who might know
where your child is. These days, the internet is a
helpful tool. Another idea is to search courthouse
Current court orders: It is also important
to get copies of any court order that may have been
issued about your child. This will help you
learn your current legal rights. It will also help
you figure out what court you will have to file
legal papers in. If a court case was filed involving
your child, you should have been notified and
given an opportunity to respond. However,
sometimes a parent is not notified. If you know
about, or even suspect, that a court case has been
filed, try to get copies of the documents filed in
the case. If you do not already have these
documents, you can get copies by going or writing
to the court. You may have to pay a fee for
copying costs. At a minimum, you will need the
most current court order.
Keep in mind that there are three courts
that may have issued a court order about your
child: the family court, the juvenile dependency
court and the probate court.
Incarcerated parents who have been able to
maintain contact with their children, through
visits, phone calls and/or letters, will have a
smoother time reuniting with their children after
release. If you have been able to maintain or
establish a positive relationship with your child’s
caregiver, this too will serve you well. But even if
your contact has been limited, or dissatisfactory,
you will have an opportunity to reconnect once
you return home.
It is important to remember that everyone’s
greatest concern should be the “best interests of
the child”. We believe that, in most cases, a
child’s best interest includes being able to
maintain a lifelong relationship with his or her
parents, incarcerated or not. However, this does
not mean that it is in a child’s best interest to be
moved from one home to another immediately
upon a parent’s release from prison or jail.
Children may have school or daycare routines that
ought not be disrupted. At the same, time, a
formerly incarcerated person may have a lot of
work to do to reestablish him or herself, with a
home, a job, etc.
It is not uncommon for a returning parent
to want immediate custody of his or her child,
while a caregiver has a different opinion.
Everyone’s circumstances are unique, but a middle
ground approach may be the best. Limited
visiting that starts immediately can be expanded
over time, as everyone gets comfortable with the
new routine. A child should not be the subject of
a legal tug-of-war. Instead, loving adults can
cooperate with each other to make sure that the
child’s needs are met. Raising children is a lot of
work. Ideally, you and your child’s caregiver can
find a way to work together and develop a sensible
arrangement of custody and visitation.
Before you try to get a court order for
visiting, we recommend that you first try to get an
informal visiting arrangement by agreement with
the caregiver. This is a good time to express your
appreciation to the caregiver for his or her efforts
in caring for your child while you are not available
to do so yourself. The caregiver of your child may
be more receptive to your friendly call or letter
than to being served with legal papers. Keep in
mind that a court is going to place great weight on
the caregiver’s opinion about your child and you;
you will likely be better off approaching the
caregiver in a reasonable manner than by being
angry or confrontational. Filing legal papers takes
a lot of work; if you can get visits without it, you
ought to try. If this effort is not successful, you
will have learned something about the caregiver’s
position. You will also be able to inform the court
that your informal efforts have failed.
We suggest that you start slowly, with
shorter visits in the caregiver’s home or a familiar
place nearby. Over time, the length and frequency
of your visits can increase, as your child and his
caregiver become more comfortable with your
presence in their lives. Everyone’s situation is
different. If you had been the primary caregiver
before your incarceration, you maintained a
relationship with your child while you were away,
and you have a stable home to return to, the
caregiver may be quite willing to transfer custody
back to you in a relatively short period of time. At
the other end of the spectrum, if you had little
contact with your child before and during your
incarceration, it may be more difficult to develop a
strong connection upon your release. In all cases,
respect for the caregiver and your child’s current
life will help you show that you are sensitive to
their feelings.
In addition to visits, you can make other
requests of the caregiver, such as allowing you to
phone your child, allowing you and your child to
write to each other, giving you photos of your
child, as well as report cards, school and art work,
keeping you informed about school progress,
medical issues and other major concerns, and
consulting with you about important decisions.
Once you have a successful visit, you can
negotiate with the caregiver for a reasonable
schedule for visits. This could be more than once
a week if you are in the same community, every
other weekend, or less often if there is a great
distance involved. Be sure to put your agreement
in writing it can be a simple letter from you
stating what you have agreed. Keep a copy.
Then keep written records of how your
arrangement is working. We hope that you will be
able to successfully arrange visits informally and
will not need to file in court.
If you are unable to work things out with
your child’s caregiver upon your release, you will
probably have to file court papers to request a
visitation order. If there is already a court order
regarding custody and visitation of your child (in
either the family court, juvenile dependency court
or probate court), you will most likely file legal
papers in that same court case to modify that court
order to give you visiting rights. Your release
from prison or jail may be a change of
circumstance that would justify a court taking a
fresh look at the present court order. If there is no
court order in any court about your child, then you
will probably need to file a new lawsuit. As part
of that lawsuit, you will ask for visiting rights.
You will fare better in court if you can
show that you have transitioned well back into the
community and that your efforts to visit with your
child have been reasonable. A judge may be
reluctant to expand your visiting and custody
rights at first. Instead, a judge might order an
initial period of “supervised” visitation. However,
the courts should not require every parent
returning to the community to have visits
supervised. You can give the judge reasons why
supervised visitation is not necessary in your case.
If you file for visitation or custody and
obtain a new visitation order, it will be important
for you to use every opportunity you are given to
visit with your child. Keep records of your visits,
phone calls and letters, so you can show the effort
you are making. Over time, your consistent
efforts will be noted. A custody and visitation
order can be modified as circumstances change.
After a reasonable period of regular visitation, the
reestablishment of your relationship with your
child, and other markers of your successful reentry
(employment, stable housing, a drug/alcohol-free
lifestyle), you can petition the court again to
expand your visiting rights or even request joint or
full custody.
It is important to follow court orders. If
you take your child without the permission of the
legal guardian or the court, or fail to return your
child as ordered, you could be prosecuted for a
criminal offense and your probation, parole or
supervised release could be revoked.
The next section of this manual discusses
the juvenile dependency court. After that is the
section on probate court. The last, and most
complicated, section concerns the family court. In
each case, you will be filling out court forms,
filing them with the correct court, asking for a
hearing date, serving copies of court papers on
your child’s caregiver, preparing for a court
hearing, attending a hearing, and obtaining court
orders. The manual will direct you to the next
section to find the information you need.
A note about court forms: All three types
of courts (juvenile dependency court, probate court
and family court) use standard statewide
forms. These forms each have a name and
number. A form for the juvenile dependency
court will start with JV; probate guardianship
court GC; and family court FC. All of the
standard statewide forms are available on the
internet at the website for the California Judicial
Council. That address is:
http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm. There is
more information about these forms in the sections
which follow.
Your local county law library is a good
resource. The librarians can help you get forms
and legal research materials, and refer you to other legal resources in your community.
Section 6: JUVENILE DEPENDENCY COURT: Reunification after release
This manual cannot cover everything you
might need or want to know about the juvenile
dependency court. LSPC’s “Incarcerated Parents
Manual” has a longer section (about 13 pages)
about dependency court. It describes all of the
stages, from CPS’s initial detention of a child,
through the filing of the petition, the detention
hearing, jurisdictional hearing, disposition
hearing, status review hearings, permanent plan
hearing, post-permanent plan hearings, through
writs and appeals. You can download a copy of
that manual from our website at
For purposes of this section of the manual,
we assume that your child has been declared a
dependent of the juvenile dependency court, that
your child has been placed with a relative
caregiver (perhaps in a dependency court
guardianship) or foster family, but that your
parental rights have not been terminated.
If your child is not returned to you at the
first court date after your release, do not give up!
This is an important time for you and your family.
Continue to follow your case plan, even if family
reunification services have been terminated. Visit
with your child as often as possible. If you must
miss a visit, call the social worker and foster
parent both, at least 24 hours before, or as soon as
you know that you cannot make it. Go to
whatever parenting, counseling or other classes
that the court orders.
Work towards gradually increasing your
visits with your child and making him/her feel
comfortable with you. Once the court sees that
your supervised visits are going well, you may be
able to take your child for an afternoon, then an
entire day, then an overnight visit, and then a
weekend visit.
Section 7: JUVENILE DEPENDENCY COURT: If you have an attorney
If your child’s case is being actively
reviewed by the court, then you probably have, or
can ask for, a court-appointed attorney. To help
your lawyer work for you, meet with, or call, him
or her when you are released. Let him/her know
about your progress during incarceration. Give
your lawyer copies of your records. You or your
lawyer can file what is known as a 388 Petition
(on form JV-180) to seek a change in that
placement. You can seek visitation, a change of
custody to you, and/or the termination of the legal
guardianship. You will have to show a change of
circumstances from the previous court order and
how your request is in the best interest of your
Section 8: JUVENILE DEPENDENCY COURT: If you are representing yourself
Filling out form JV-180
If you do not have an attorney now, or if
your attorney is unwilling or unable to assist you,
you can fill out a JV-180 form (“Request to
Change Court Order”) to make this request
yourself. A copy of this 3-page form is attached
to this manual. If you need more space to explain
your answers, you can attach another sheet of
paper. The two things you have to prove to the
judge are (1) that visiting with you is in the best
interest of your child, and (2) that something
significant has changed since the last time the
judge issued court orders about your child.
Section 13 has helpful information about what to
ask for and how to write your statement.
It is important that you make the strongest
case you can in your papers, because the court is
not required to hold a hearing on your request. If
you have helpful documents, attach them. They
could include: letters from your child asking to see
you, copies of letters you have sent your child, a
declaration or letter from a relative stating that
your child misses you and wants to see you,
certificates that you have earned, character
reference letters for you from people supporting
your request and stating why, any written
documentation about your current employment,
schooling or housing situation, etc.
Filing the form in court
You can hand-deliver or mail the form to
the court. First, be sure to make two copies of
everything. Keep one copy for yourself. Deliver
the original and one set to the court, or mail them
with a self-addressed, stamped envelope enclosed.
A list of mailing addresses for the juvenile
dependency courts in all 58 California counties is
attached to this manual.
Next steps
The court clerk will file your original,
stamp the copy “file-endorsed” and return it to you
in person or by mail. The judge will read your
request and make a decision to either (1) set your
request for a court hearing or (2) deny it.
Preparing for a court hearing
If the court orders a hearing, then you will
need to prepare. What you will do is similar to
what any parent would need to do to prepare for a
court hearing about a request for a visiting order.
A hearing on such a request might be less formal
and take less time in juvenile dependency court
than a similar hearing in another court, but the
basic ideas are the same. Skip ahead to sections
14-17 for a description on preparing and attending
this court hearing, and the steps after a hearing.
Section 9: PROBATE COURT: Getting a visitation order
If a probate court has already created a
guardianship and appointed a guardian (or
guardians) for your child, then you will be dealing
with the guardian(s) and probate court.
If you are comfortable with the current
guardianship arrangement, but want to gain or
expand your visitation rights now that you are in
the community, you can file a motion for
visitation rights in the probate court. When
guardians are appointed, they receive a 12 page
“Guardianship Pamphlet” which tells them:
Please note: Guardianships can be confusing, since
both the probate court and the juvenile dependency
court can create guardianships. If the guardianship
involved Child Protective Services and you had a
court-appointed attorney at those hearings, then that
would be a juvenile dependency court case, not a
probate court case.
The court may require that
you allow visitation or contact
between the child and his or her
parents. The child’s needs often
require that the parent-child
relationship be maintained, within
reason. However, the court may
place restrictions on the visits, such
as the requirement of supervision.
The court may also impose other
conditions in the child’s best
Under most circumstances,
it is best for you to have a working
relationship with the parents if
possible. However, in every case,
you must follow all orders of the
court, including those that may
restrict contacts and visitation.
As you can see, it is possible to get a court
order that a guardian be required to allow you to
visit with your child. The challenge is in getting
the guardianship case back in front of a judge to
make this request.
Finding the forms
Currently, there are no standard, statewide
forms specifically designed for probate court
guardianship cases to ask for visitation rights after
the guardianship has been established. San Diego
County has developed its own form, which is
attached to this manual. Even if your child’s
guardianship case is not in San Diego County, you
may be able to use that form (by crossing out the
words that apply to San Diego County).
Alternatively, you may be able to use forms
developed for family court. These forms are listed
at the beginning of section 13 of this manual.
To find out what your county probate court
requires, you can contact the Family Law
Facilitator office for your county. The Family
Law Facilitator is an office with the county court
that has been created to help people who don’t
have lawyers get practical information on filling
out court forms. Tell them that your child is the
subject of a guardianship in that county, that you
want court-ordered visits with your child, and that
you need to know which forms to use. You can
also ask them to give you blank copies of the
forms. A list of addresses of all of the Family
Law Facilitator offices is attached to this manual.
You can also download forms from the internet.
That address is:
Filling out, filing and serving the forms
Since you will probably be filling out the
same forms as are used in the Family Law Court,
you can jump ahead in this manual to section 13 to
get specific information about how to fill out these
forms, file them, receive them back from the court,
serve them on the guardian, and fill out and file
the Proof of Service form.
Preparing for a court hearing
If the court orders a hearing, then you will
need to prepare. What you will do is similar to
what any parent would need to do to prepare for a
court hearing about a request for a visiting order.
Turn to sections 14-17 for a description on
preparing and attending this court hearing, and the
steps after a hearing.
Section 10: PROBATE COURT: Termination of guardianship
A guardianship continues until your child
turns 18, is emancipated (gets married or gets an
emancipation court order), dies, or until the
guardianship is terminated by court order.
To seek or regain custody, you would
petition the court to terminate the guardianship.
The “grounds” or “reason” is that there is no
longer a need for the guardianship, since you can
now resume caring for your child. For the court to
terminate the guardianship, the court also has to find
that the guardianship is not in your child’s best
interest and that it would not be detrimental for your
child to live with you. (Family Code section 3041.)
If the guardianship is terminated, the court can
order visitation rights for the former guardian.
To petition to terminate the guardianship
and for custody of your child, you will need the
following forms:
FW-001 Request to Waive Court Fees (if
FW-003 Order on Court Fee Waiver (only if
you request a waiver)
GC-255 Petition for Termination of
MC-025 Attachment form (optional)
GC-020 Notice of Hearing
DE-120(MA)/GC-020(MA) Attachment to
Notice of Hearing: Proof of Service by Mail
GC-020(P) Proof of Personal Service of
Notice of Hearing
If you want to change guardians, you would
file the same forms (listed above) to terminate the
present guardianship plus:
GC-210(P) Petition for Appointment of
Guardian (naming the new guardian)
GC-210(CA) Child Information Attachment
GC-212 Confidential Guardian Screening
FL-105/GC-120 Declaration Under
Use the same case number on these documents. If
you are filing a new petition, write in “Successor” to
show the judge that it is a Petition for Appointment of
Successor Guardian. The new guardian can be a
co-petitioner with you.
Filling out the forms
The Petition is the key document. You say
what you want and why. You also have to list
your child’s relatives (question 9). If you know
you will be unable to send any of them copies of
your Petition, you can ask the judge to dispense
with notice (question 7).
You can use the MC-025 Attachment form
if you need more room for any of your answers.
You can copy it if you need extra pages. Attach
any other helpful documents to your petition, such
as documents about your recent achievements,
your current housing and employment, character
reference letters about you, etc.
The last three forms listed on page 7 give
people notice of the court hearing and tell the
court how you served them with this notice. The
first two are mandatory. You can fill out the
basics on the first page of the Notice of Hearing
form, but will have to leave the Date/Time/Dept./
Room information blank. The court clerk will fill
in that information. Also, you can leave the
second page of the Notice of Hearing and the DE-
120(MA)/GC-020(MA) form blank at this point.
(This second form is an attachment to the first
form, to give you room to list additional people
you will mail the papers to.) You would use the
third form if you have someone served in
person—one form for each person who is served
in person.
You might also consider filing a petition
for visitation rights with your child, if you don’t
already have them, and as a backup in case the
judge denies your petition to terminate the
guardianship. See section 9 above.
For more information about filling out
forms, writing your declaration and attaching
exhibits, see section 13 below. Your county’s
Family Law Facilitator may be able to provide you
with some assistance if you have questions about
how to fill out and file these forms.
Filing and serving the forms
After you fill out the basic mandatory
paperwork, make at least 3 copies. Take them to
the court for filing. Hopefully, the court will grant
your fee waiver request, file your papers and issue
you a court date for a hearing. The clerk will mail
or hand you back one set of paperwork with a file-
stamp on each form which was filed.
After you receive the filed documents back
from the court, finish filling out the Notice of
Hearing and DE-120(MA)/GC-020(MA) forms,
by listing the parties names and addresses who
you are going to serve. You will serve the
guardian(s), all of the relatives that had to be
served when the petition for guardianship was
filed (parent, grandparents, brothers and sisters),
anyone who has a right to visitation, and any other
relatives who may have appeared in court when
the guardianship was established. People living in
the same home are entitled to separate notice/
separate envelopes. Next, address an envelope for
each person entitled to notice. Double-check that
you have an envelope for all of the people listed
on the Proof of Service documents.
Then make several sets of your forms
one set for each envelope and at least one set for
yourself. Put one set in each envelope and put the
correct amount of postage on each envelope.
As the petitioner, you are not allowed to
serve (mail) these documents yourself. You will
have to find someone else to place these envelopes
in the mail. That person must then fill out the
Proof of Service by Mail on page 2 of a copy of
the Notice of Hearing. Make 2 copies of the
signed Proof of Service documents. Keep one
copy for yourself. Bring, or mail the original and
one copy to the court, with a self-addressed
stamped envelope so the court can mail you back a
file-endorsed copy.
Next steps
After a petition to terminate guardianship
is filed, a court investigator will investigate the
situation and write a report for the judge. The
court may appoint an attorney for the child(ren).
The investigator and the child’s attorney are
resources who can probably help answer other
questions about procedures.
It is of course important for you to attend
the hearing. See sections 14-17 for information
about how to prepare for the hearing, and what
happens at and after the hearing. The court will
use form GC-260 (Order Terminating
Guardianship) if he/she grants your petition to
terminate the guardianship.
Section 11: FAMILY COURT: Getting a visitation order in a family court case already filed
If a family law court has already issued a
court order about custody and visitation of your
child, then you will not need to file a new court
case. You will not need to file a petition or
summons. Instead, you can make a written motion
for visitation in the lawsuit already on file,
whether it is a dissolution of marriage or civil
partnership, or a petition to establish parental
relationship, or a petition for custody and support
of minor children. You would use the same case
name and case number, and file your motion
papers in the same court, as the previous court
case. Please note: A child support case brought
by the county does not determine custody so you
would not file a motion for visitation in that kind
of case to seek visiting rights.
If there is already a custody/visitation
order in your child’s case, you can skip the next
section and go to section 13.
Section 12: FAMILY COURT: Filing a new lawsuit in family court to get a visitation order
If neither you nor anyone else (including
CPS) has filed a court case involving the custody
of your child, and you want a court order for
visiting rights, you will have to file a new lawsuit
in family court. The kind of lawsuit depends on
whether you were married or in a domestic
partnership with, or were unmarried to, the other
parent of your child. You will need to figure out
which of the four kinds of petitions is right for
your situation.
Finding the petition which is right for you
Petition for dissolution of marriage or
legal separation (FL-100): If you were married
and now want to be divorced from the other parent
who has custody of your child, you will file for
dissolution of marriage in family court. For more
information on filing for a divorce, or responding
to a divorce petition filed upon you, LSPC’s
manual, “Manual on Divorce Issues for People in
California Prisons and Jails” may be helpful to
you. It is available on our website. If you do not
want to end your marriage, you can file for legal
separation instead. Both kinds of lawsuits use the
same petition form (FL-100).
Petition for dissolution of domestic
partnership or legal separation (FL-103): If you
were in a domestic partnership (a same-sex
relationship registered with the State of California)
and now want to legally terminate that partnership
from the other parent who has custody of your
child, you would file for a dissolution of domestic
partnership in family court. These procedures are
identical to divorce procedures. LSPC’s manual,
“Manual on Divorce Issues for People in
California Prisons and Jails” may be helpful to
you. If you do not want to permanently dissolve
the partnership, you can file for legal separation
instead. Both of these petitions use the same
petition form (FL-103).
Petition for custody and support of minor
children (FL-260): If you were unmarried and
the parentage of your child has already been
officially established, then you can file a petition
for custody and support of minor children in
family court. Your child’s parentage would have
to have been established through (1) a Voluntary
Declaration of Paternity signed by both parents;
(2) an adoption case; (3) a juvenile dependency
court case; or (4) a government child support case.
A married person can also file this petition. It
does not change a married person’s marital status
or divide property.
Petition to establish parental relationship
(FL-200): If you were unmarried and the
parentage of your child has not already been
established in family court by one of the four
methods listed in the paragraph above, then you
will file a petition to establish parental relationship
in family court.
Using the correct summons, response form
and proof of service
You will be serving your petition, a
summons and a blank response form, to the person
you are suing (the respondent). And the person
who delivers those (and other) papers to the
respondent will have to fill out a proof of service.
The following is a chart which will help you find
the correct forms for your petition.
Dissolution of civil partnership/legal
Petition to Establish Parental
Petition for Custody
These are the basic forms you will need to
file a new lawsuit. (Many are available in
Spanish.) You will need other forms to get a
hearing in front of a judge to seek a visiting order.
And you may need to get a fee waiver to avoid
having to pay a filing fee. Section 13 will address
these topics and how to fill out these forms.
What if someone other than your child’s
parent is caring for your child?
The petitions listed above are designed to
determine child custody and visitation issues
between two parents. However, sometimes a
relative, friend or even a stranger has the physical
custody of a child. If that caregiver already has a
court order for custody or visitation, the most
straightforward thing you can do is to file a
motion for visitation in that court case. You
would not need to file one of the petitions
described above.
To get your visiting rights when a non-
parent has custody of your child but does not have
a court order granting custody, you will have to
bring her into court as a party to a lawsuit. Be
aware that the judge who hears your request for a
visitation order may issue an order granting this
caregiver physical and legal custody of your child,
whether granting your request or not.
There is no special lawsuit designed for
this situation. Instead, what you can do is (1) file
the petition listed above which best describes your
situation and (2) file a Motion for Joinder of the
caregiver to your lawsuit. This means that you are
“joining” or “adding” a third party (the caregiver)
to a case that ordinarily only involves the parents.
You would use FL-371 to make your request and
to schedule a hearing on your motion. You also
have to staple to the Motion for Joinder “an
appropriate pleading setting forth the claim as if it
were asserted in a separate action or proceeding.”
California Rule of Court 5.24(d)(1). This
“pleading” could be called a “Pleading on Joinder:
Child Visitation”. There is no standard form, so
you would have to write one up on your own.
Attached to this manual is a sample pleading.
You would file and serve your petition,
appropriate summons and motion for joinder (with
attached Pleading on Joinder) on the other parent
(but not on the person you are trying to join at this
stage). The court should give you a court date on
your Motion for Joinder within 30 days of the
filing of your motion. At that hearing, the court
must order the joinder of any person “with
physical custody or [who]claims custody or
visitation rights with respect to any minor child of
the marriage, domestic partnership, or to any
minor child of the relationship.” California Rule
of Court 5.24(e)(1)(A).
If the court grants your motion, it should
issue a written order. A sample order is attached
to this manual. Your next steps are to fill out a
Summons (Joinder) (FL-375) form, and serve it,
along with your Notice of Motion and Declaration
for Joinder, Order on Joinder, Pleading on Joinder,
the original Petition you filed, and any other
motion papers you will need, on the person joined.
You will also have to serve the other parent with
these other motion papers. For further discussion
about motion papers in family court, see the next
section of this manual (section 13).
Please note: the two Rules of Court cited
in this section will be effective on January 1,
2013. They replace current Rules 5.156(a) and
5.158(a), respectively, which are very similar.
Section 13: FAMILY COURT: Filing motion papers in family court to get a visitation order
Determining and obtaining
the right court forms
Courts use a lot of standard forms. It can
be confusing to figure out which forms to use and
how to fill them out. This manual tries to give you
accurate information about the forms you will
need. However, there are 58 counties in
California and they may have different
requirements. For specific information about your
county (the county where your child is currently
living), you can contact the Family Law Facilitator
in that county. A list of their addresses is attached
at the end of this manual. Tell that office that you
are seeking visitation rights with your child, what
kind of petition you want to file – or what kind of
case is already in their court regarding your child’s
custody, and ask them for blank copies of all the
forms you will need. They may be willing to
review your forms for completeness and answer
your questions. You can also obtain the forms on
your own from the internet at
Fee waiver forms
Whether you are filing a new lawsuit or a
motion in a lawsuit already on file, the court will
require you to pay a filing fee. If you have limited
resources, you can ask the court to waive (not
charge) those fees. Here are the two forms you
Request to Waive Court Fees: FW 001
Order on Court Fee Waiver: FW 003
Forms to request a hearing
to obtain a visitation order
You will need the following forms:
FL-105/GC-120 Declaration Under
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and
Enforcement Act: A history of your child’s
living arrangements
FL-300 Request for Order: Your request,
with reasons, and the court’s pre-hearing
FL-311 Child Custody and Visitation
Application Attachment: Optional
MC-025 Optional attachment for your
FL-115 Proof of Service of Summons [for
petitioners filing a new lawsuit]
FL-330 Proof of Personal Service [for
people filing for a hearing in a case already
Many of these forms are available in Spanish.
Filling out the forms
Most of the forms are “fill in the blank.”
However, in some places you will need to write
your own statement of facts. Ideally, you would
have a set of the forms to practice on and another
“clean” set of forms to fill out once you are sure
how to fill them out properly. You could use
pencil at first if you only have one set. Definitely
write out your “statement” (or declaration) on a
blank piece of paper at first, because you may
want to put it through a few drafts.
Read each part of the forms carefully. Do
your best to answer each question. If a question
does not apply to you, you can writenot
applicable” or “NA.” You can add extra words if
it will help explain your answer.
If you know you will need to use the
Sheriff’s Department to serve the legal papers on
the caregiver, include “service of process fee by
sheriff” as a fee you are seeking waived in your
Fee Waiver forms.
The Information Sheet for FL-300 (FL-
300-INFO) is attached to this manual. Please
refer to it for additional information.
What to ask for
If you want the judge to order the caregiver
to appear in court, check box #4 on the first page
of form FL-300. This is generally a good idea, as
the judge will want to hear from that person.
On form FL-300, question 2 asks you to
state the visiting order you want in terms of days,
length and frequency of visits. You can either fill
out form FL-311 or write out your request on a
separate piece of paper (label it “Attachment 2a”).
Ask for unsupervised visits. Ask for visits of
reasonable length and frequency. Depending on
your child’s age, distance from your current
housing, and the strength of your current
relationship, you could ask for visits a few times a
week or weekly, every other weekend, every
month, etc. If you haven’t seen your child in some
time, you could ask for one or two visits to see
how it goes, and then return to court to evaluate
the experience with the hope of making a more
permanent schedule.
On form FL-300, question 8 asks you to
state what “other relief” you are seeking. Here is
the place to ask for everything else that you would
like to help you maintain a relationship with your
child. You can also ask for regular phone calls;
that your letters to your child be read or given to
him/her; that photographs be mailed to you
regularly; that you be kept informed about school
activities, grades, health issues, etc.; and that you
be consulted on major decisions.
Writing your supporting declaration
Probably the most important part of the
form is question 10, which is your supporting
declaration. This is where you tell your story
about who you are, what your relationship with
your child is like, and why visiting with you is in
your child’s best interest. Plan to spend some time
writing and rewriting it. The statement should be
1-3 pages in length. Typically, each sentence or
paragraph is numbered.
A logical order is to start with positive
things about yourself such as your education or
employment before you were incarcerated and
currently. Then describe your relationship with
your child before you were incarcerated. You’ll
have to tell the court about your conviction and
sentence. Try and find the best way to describe
the context of your criminal case. For example, if
it came about because of a drug problem, or an
abusive relationship, or if you were a minor
participant, or it was your first conviction, you
could provide that information. Then you could
describe the positive things that you did while
incarcerated. Tell the judge what you did to try
and maintain your relationship with you child
during that time. Describe who is caring for your
child now and what you have done to try and work
out a visitation schedule. What is your
relationship with your child like now? If your
child wants to visit with you, let the judge know
that. Describe why visiting with you will be good
for your child. Where will these visits take place?
What will you do together? If transportation is an
issue, you should address it. Who will transport
the child, and how? Who will bear any travel
You can attach to your motion and
declaration any exhibit that you think is helpful to
your case. This could include certificates you
have earned while incarcerated; letters to or from
your child; support letters from family members or
others; documents that show current employment
or attendance at self-help groups, or any other
document that supports your case. Mark each
exhibit with a number or letter (Exhibit A, B, C, or
1, 2, 3, etc.), and describe each exhibit in your
declaration so that court knows what it is. Do not
overwhelm the court with documents. Only attach
those few exhibits, if any, that directly support
your request.
Reviewing your documents
Once you have filled out the forms to your
best ability, ask someone to review them. It could
be a relative or friend, or someone at the Family
Law Facilitators Office. The Family Law
Facilitator will not give you legal advice, but can
point out things that you may have missed or
misunderstood. After you have done the best you
can with the resources available to you, prepare a
complete set of the forms. It is best if you can do
this on a computer, because it is easier to read than
handwriting. If not, print clearly and use black or
blue ink. The easier your documents are to read,
the easier it will be for the clerk and the judge to
understand what you want and why.
If the caregiver is not the other parent
Sometimes, the person caring for a
prisoner’s child is not the child’s other parent. It
might be a grandparent or other relative, a friend
of someone in the family, or even a stranger. We
are assuming that you are not trying to stop this
person from being the primary caregiver of your
child at this stage; you are simply trying to get
visiting rights with your child.
If this caregiver was not already a party to
the child custody case already on file, you will
have to add or “join” this caregiver. Otherwise,
the judge will not have the right to issue a court
order against that person. You can find
information about this procedure at the end of
section 12 above, under the heading What if
someone other than your child’s parent is
caring for your child?”
If you are trying to change who the caregiver is, to
yourself or someone else, you would use the same
forms but fill them out differently. As a practical
matter, if you wanted someone else to become the new
caregiver, that person would have to be ready and
willing to do so. The court would have to view that
person as a suitable substitute and the change in
caregivers as being in the best interests of your child.
You and that person would have to be working closely
together on filing that lawsuit.
Filing the forms with the court
Before you file the forms with the court,
make two copies of everything. Keep one set for
yourself. Hand-deliver or mail the original and
one set to the court, and give the court a self-
addressed, stamped envelope.
Receiving the forms back from the court
If the court accepts your forms, it will rule
on your fee waiver request, schedule a court
hearing time and place, and stamp the forms “file-
endorsed.” The court may order the other party to
attend the hearing, and order the parties to
participate in mediation services before the
hearing. The court may issue other orders, such as
restraining orders, orders not to remove the child
from the state or county, or any orders you may
have requested be issued pending the hearing. The
court clerk will mail one set of these papers back
to you (or you may be able to pick them up). It is
very important that you make copies of this set,
because you and each person you are suing will a
set. (Exception: You do not have to serve your
fee waiver forms on the other parties.)
Serving the forms on the caregiver
When a lawsuit is first filed, it must be
personally served on the other party or parties.
This means that the forms must be hand-delivered
to whoever you are suing. This is called “service
of process.” Any adult over the age of 18 can do
this for you. Because you are a party in the case,
you are not allowed to serve these papers.
If you have no one to serve the legal
papers, you can ask the county sheriff’s office to
do it. There may be a fee for this service. If you
know you will need to use this service, include
“service of process fee by sheriff” as a fee you are
seeking waived in your Fee Waiver forms.
After you receive file-endorsed copies of
your documents back from the court, mail one
copy of each form and the proper blank response
form to your process-server for each person you
are suing. Be sure to keep one set for yourself.
Give your process-server all the information you
have about where and when to find that person.
Your process server should hand-deliver the forms
as soon as possible, because they must be served a
certain number of days before the hearing. If the
process server is unsuccessful, there are some
alternatives described on the Proof of Service
form. Your process server should seek advice on
what to do next.
If you are unable to serve the caregiver,
you will not be able to get a court order for
visiting with your child, so this step is crucial. If
it turns out that you need more time to do so, you
can ask the court for a later court date. To get a
new date, you may have to fill out the Request for
Order form again.
Filling out and filing the Proof of Service form
After the caregiver is served, your process
server must fill out the Proof of Service form and
file it with the court. If the process server files it
with the court directly, he/she should give you a
copy. If the process server sends it to you to file,
be sure to make a copy of it for your records
before filing it in person, or mailing the original
(and one copy) to the court with a self-addressed
The mediation session
If your case is in Family Court, you will
probably be scheduled for a mediation session
with your child’s caregiver. This could happen on
a date before, or maybe the same day as, the
hearing. The mediator works for the court. A
mediator is a trained counselor who will listen to
both the caregiver and you, and try to help you
come to an agreement. The mediator’s primary
concern, like the court’s, will be the best interest
of your child. Depending on the mediator and/or
the county where the case is being heard, the
mediator may be quite supportive of a child’s
visiting a parent who has recently been released
from prison or jail, or hostile to the idea, or
neutral. If no agreement is possible, then the
mediator will give a report to the court and
probably make a recommendation. Courts tend to
follow the recommendations of their mediators.
This is an important session. You must
present yourself and your case as strongly as
possible. One effective way to prepare for this
meeting is by doing a role-play with your friends.
Ask someone to pretend to be your child’s
caregiver and someone else to play the role of
mediator. You be yourself. Have the “mediator
ask you to describe your request and then ask the
“caregiver” for a response. Then, you give your
response and have the mediator try to negotiate an
agreement. After the exercise, have a discussion
with your friends about what you did well and
what you could have done better. You can learn a
lot from this kind of exercise.
Marshaling your witnesses and evidence
Most family law hearings are not lengthy.
However, you may have an uphill battle so it is
good to present as strong a case as you can. If you
have family or friends who are supporting your
motion, they can help you tremendously by
attending the court hearing. Their physical
presence in the courtroom can give you strength
and will let the judge know that you have support.
Also, you may want them on hand as possible
witnesses. If someone has firsthand knowledge
that you are a good and loving parent, or that the
caregiver has been unreasonable in some ways, he
or she might make a good witness for you. Tell
your witnesses what testimony you think they can
offer and make sure they are comfortable with it.
Consider carefully which witnesses you want.
Ask yourself whether or not your witness could
somehow be used against youfor example, if he
or she knows negative things about you that might
come out in court if he or she was cross-examined.
Consider also whether you have any
additional exhibits to present that you have not
already submitted to the court. If so, bring them to
court with you, have your support person bring
them to court that day, or mail them in before the
hearing. Always have a copy to give to the other
side and one for yourself.
Writing down your main points
It is easy to get flustered and forget things
during a court hearing. It will be helpful if you
make a list of your main points – the strongest
facts you have to support your requests. Also, try
to anticipate what the caregiver will say to try and
prevent visitation and write down in advance what
your best response is to those arguments. You
may have an opportunity to ask the caregiver
questions. Think about this beforehand and write
down a few questions to ask the caregiver that will
either bring out favorable information about you
or will reveal negative information about the
caregiver’s position. Finally, make a checklist of
all the things that you have asked for in your
papers (frequency and length of visits and phone
calls, copies of report cards, photographs, etc.).
Doing a-run through of a court hearing
One effective way to prepare for this court
hearing is by doing a role-play with your friends.
Ask someone to pretend to be your child’s
caregiver and someone else to play the role of
judge. You be yourself. Have the “judge” ask
you to describe your request and then ask the
“caregiver” for a response. Thejudge” can ask
you both questions and allow each of you to ask
the other questions. Then, the judge can make a
ruling. After the exercise, have a discussion with
your friends about what you did well and what
you could have done better.
Getting to court early
Plan on arriving at the courthouse at least a
half hour early. Ask your witnesses and
supporters to do the same. You will be calmer and
more able to represent yourself if you are not late.
Being sworn as a witness
Unless you have an attorney, you will have
two roles to play during the court hearing. You
are your own attorney, and you are the party (or
person) who is seeking a court order. You, and
any other witnesses or parties, will be sworn to tell
the truth.
Your presentation
Since you are the party whose motion is
being heard, the judge may call on you first. Be
prepared to state your case simply and briefly.
Speak slowly and clearly. State what you want
and why it is reasonable and in your child’s best
interest. Hopefully, the judge has read everything
you have written and submitted to the court. It is
fine to repeat your main points, but you do not
need to repeat every detail. Be conscious of the
time. You may have less than five minutes to
speak to the judge. Tell the judge if you have any
witnesses to present.
If you have additional exhibits to present,
do so now. Explain what they are. Give the
original to the court and a copy to the other side.
Keep a copy for yourself.
The judge, the opposing attorney or the
opposing party (if without an attorney) may ask
you questions. It is best to admit the truth, but
provide a helpful context. For example, if the
judge asks how often you have seen your child in
the last five years, and the answer is “not at all,”
you can answer (if true) “[Opposing party] has
refused to let me see my child when I tried, so I
have been unable to see her at all. I have written
my daughter every month.”
If you are presenting a witness, you would
do so at this point. The general rule is that you
have to ask open-ended questions of your
witnesses. This means you have to ask a question
like, “Please tell the judge what you know about
me as a parent, and not a leading question like,
“You think that I am a great parent, don’t you?”
Even if your witness does not testify, you can tell
the judge that you have a witness present in court
who could corroborate you on particular facts.
Opposing party’s presentation
When it is the opposing party’s turn to
present his or her case, do not interrupt. If you
disagree with what is being said, write yourself a
note. The court should give you a chance to ask
questions of the opposing party. You may have
some questions already prepared, and you may
think of some during the presentation. The
questions can bring out facts favorable to you, or
unfavorable to the other side. You can ask leading
questions of an opposing party or witness. For
example, you can ask, “Didn’t I bring my son to
the doctor regularly when he was in my care?”
Or, “Isn’t it true that you were arrested for driving
under the influence with my child in the car?”
Your rebuttal
When the other side finishes its
presentation, you can ask the court if you can
reply. Don’t just repeat your original presentation.
Instead, use this time to refute what the opposing
party has said. You can tell the judge if certain
unfavorable facts are untrue. Even if an
unfavorable fact is true, you can put it in an
understandable context.
The court’s ruling
Listen carefully to the judges decision.
Take notes. If you don’t understand some part of
it, ask that the judge explain it. If the judge has
forgotten to rule on something that you asked for,
remind him or her. For example, the judge may
have made a ruling about visits, but forgotten your
request about phone calls. (This is why it is
helpful to have a written list of your specific
Next court date
If you think it will be helpful to your case,
ask for a next court date. For example, if the judge
orders a visit once a week, but you are
worried that the visit won’t happen, you can ask
for a “progress report” or “status hearing in a
month. This will put pressure on the other party to
make the visit happen in the timeframe the judge
ordered. You can even agree at this hearing that
you will “continue” or “postpone” the next hearing
for another few months if the visits are happening
on schedule. The advantage of having
an automatic next court date is that you will not
have to refile and re-serve court motion papers in
order to get back on the court’s calendar to
address any problems that may occur.
Preparing the court order
The last step is to ask who will be
responsible for preparing, filing and serving the
written court order. In some courts, the order may
be prepared by the clerk the same day as the
hearing. Other times, one of the parties
(particularly where there is an attorney) will be
responsible. Where there are two attorneys, one
usually writes the order and the other attorney
“approves” the order (or points out corrections)
before it is signed by the judge. You can ask to
“approve” an order written by the other party’s
attorney. If you do so, read the proposed order
carefully and make sure it accurately reflects what
the judge said. You can make corrections. The
court order is then submitted to the judge for
signature. The court clerk will “conform or
stamp copies of the court order. Then, the copies
have to be sent or given to the parties.
Forms for court orders
Here are the standard forms used to
prepare court orders for child visitation:
Family Law:
FL-340: Findings and Order After Hearing
Optional attachments:
FL-341: Child Custody and Visitation
Order Attachment
FL-341(A): Supervised Visitation Order
FL-341(B): Child Abduction Prevention
Order Attachment
FL-341(D): Additional Provisions –
Physical Custody Attachment
FL-341(E): Joint Legal Custody
Probate guardianship:
GC-248: Duties of Guardian (see section
o. on page two)
GC-240: Order Appointing Guardian of
GC-250: Letters of Guardianship
Juvenile Dependency Court:
JV-184: Order After Hearing on Form JV-
If you have obtained a court order for
visitation, phone calls or anything else that will help
you maintain a relationship with your child,
CONGRATULATIONS! Hopefully, your child’s
caregiver will comply with the order. Here are some
things you can do to help make this happen.
This is a good time to again express your
appreciation to your child’s caregiver for the
important work she or he is doing to care for your
child. Express your intention to do everything you
can to make the visits or other contact as positive for
your child as they can be.
Set up a communication system with the
caregiver through phone, emails or through a third
party. Make your requests clear. For example,
suggest a reasonable date for the first visit to occur.
Keep copies of any messages you send the caregiver
and/or keep a diary of your contact with the caregiver
about these arrangements. Be reasonable and
flexible. If necessary, let the caregiver know that you
will take the case back to court if the judge’s order is
not followed.
If difficulties develop, look for assistance
from third parties. The family court mediator, a
clergy member, or other family members may be
helpful intermediaries.
If the caregiver does not comply with the
order, you may be forced to go back to court for
relief. If a next court date was already scheduled
in the case, then you may be able to raise the
issues at that hearing. Before the hearing, you can
file a written declaration telling the court what has
happened since the last hearing. You can use form
MC-030 for this purpose. If you file a declaration,
you will have to serve it on the
opposing party. It can be mailed. Fill out and file
Form FL-335 to prove that it was served by mail.
If there is no new court date scheduled,
you will either have to file a new Request for
Order and supporting forms for modification (like
you did already) or a contempt of court motion.
Either motion will get the attention of the court
and show the caregiver that you are serious. A
new motion for modification seeks a change in the
previous court order based on a change of
circumstances from the last court hearing. If
nothing external has particularly changed, it can
be challenging to find a way to bring a
modification motion. Perhaps what has changed is
the caregiver’s willingness or ability to comply
with the court order. You can seek a change in the
visiting arrangement, such as your being able to
pick your child up from school or daycare.
A contempt of court proceeding does not
seek a change in the court order, but punishment
for the party who intentionally disobeyed the
previous court order when she or he had the ability
to comply. Since it is in the best interest of your
child that you and your child’s caregiver work
cooperatively together, a contempt proceeding
should only be used as a last resort. For those
parents who have no other choice, the following
are the forms you will need to file a contempt
FL-410: Order to Show Cause and
Affidavit for Contempt
FL-412: Affidavit of Facts Constituting
MC-025: Attachment (optional)
FL-330: Proof of Personal Service
Getting accused of contempt of court sometimes
motivates people to comply with court orders.
We hope that this information is helpful to
you. The court system can be overwhelming. We
believe that the courts should make it easier, and
not harder, for parents returning to the community
from prisons and jails, to develop and maintain
relationships with their children. Being
incarcerated does not make someone a bad parent.
Nor should parents who are released from prison
or jail be stigmatized for that reason. In most
cases, children want to know their parents and
want their parents to be a part of their lives.
As more and more incarcerated and
released parents petition the courts for visiting
rights, we believe the courts will become more
understanding of your perspective. In this way,
you are helping pave the way for a better
tomorrow, not only for your family but also for
others. We wish you success in your efforts to
remain in your children’s lives.
JV-180, Page 1 of 3
Request to Change Court Order
Judicial Council of California, www.courts.ca.gov
Revised January 1, 2014, Mandatory Form
Welfare and Institution Code, §§ 388, 778
California Rules of Court, rules 5.524, 5.570
Request to Change Court Order
Clerk stamps date here when form is filed.
Fill in court name and street address:
Superior Court of California, County of
Clerk fills in case number when form is filed.
Case Number:
Fill in child's name and date of birth:
Name of Child or Youth:
My name:
Your information:
I am the:
child or youth mother father legal guardian
foster parent
sibling or other relative
social worker
probation officer attorney
My address:
My city, state, zip code:
My telephone number:
If you are an attorney:
My client’s name:
My client’s relationship to the child or youth:
My State Bar number:
My client’s address (if confidential, see item 3):
This form can be used to ask the court to change an order, to ask the court to
dismiss your case, to ask the court to terminate reunification services, or to
ask the court to recognize your relationship with your sister or brother. After
filling out this form, take it to the clerk of the court.
Type of request (check the appropriate box below and add specific details in items 6–9, as applicable):
I am asking the court to change an order.
I am asking the court to terminate its jurisdiction.
I am asking the court to terminate reunification services.
I am asking the court to recognize my relationship with my brother or sister.
I am related to him or her
I am related to him or her
on our mother’s side
on our father’s side.
by blood or adoption
by marriage.
If you want to keep your address or your client’s address confidential, fill out Confidential Information (Request to
Change Court Order) (form JV-182) and do not write the address on this form.
Check here if form JV-182 is attached.
Date of birth:
Attorney (if known):
d. The child or youth lives with or in a (check all that apply):
Child’s or youth’s information:
parent legal guardian relative
foster home
group home
I don’t know
Name of the person the child or youth lives with or the place where he or she lives:
Check here if unknown.
Name of child or youth:
Case Number:
JV-180, Page 2 of 3
Request to Change Court Order
Rev. January 1, 2014
Information about parents, legal guardians, and others:
Names of parents or legal guardians:
Check here if unknown.)
Address of parent/legal guardian:
Check here if unknown.)
Address of parent/legal guardian:
Check here if unknown.)
Indian tribe (if applicable and known):
CASA volunteer (if applicable and known):
Educational rights holder (if applicable and known):
Social worker or probation officer (if applicable and known):
If you are asking the court to recognize your relationship with your brother or sister but not asking the court to
change an order, you may skip to item 8.
the judge made the following order that I think should be changed:
On (date, if known):
Check here if you need more space for any of the answers. Attach a sheet of paper and write “JV-180” at the top
of the page.
Number of pages attached:
What has happened since that order that might change the judge’s mind? (Give new information that the judge did
not have when the order was made):
What new order or orders do you want the judge to make now?
Why would the requested order or action be better for the child or youth?
Type or print name
Case Number:
Name of child or youth:
I have had a copy of my request sent to the people listed below, as applicable. I have checked the correct box to the
right of each name to show whether, as far as I know, that person agrees with my request.
If you do not have an attorney, the clerk will send notice and copies of your request to all persons required to
receive notice under Welfare and Institutions Code sections 297 and 386 and rules 5.524 and 5.570 of the
California Rules of Court.
Name Agree Disagree
District attorney:
Child (if 10 years old, or older) or youth:
County counsel:
Attorney for parent/legal guardian:
Attorney for parent/legal guardian:
Sibling’s attorney:
Sibling’s caregiver:
Sibling (if petition filed & 10+ years old:)
Indian custodian:
Indian tribe:
Educational rights holder:
CASA volunteer:
Preadoptive parent:
Current caregiver/foster parent:
Probation officer:
Social worker:
Legal guardian:
Legal guardian:
Child’s or youth’s attorney:
You can ask the judge to make a decision without a court hearing if all the people named above agree with your
request. Check here
if you want a decision without a hearing.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the information in this form is true
and correct to the best of my knowledge.
If anyone disagrees with your request, please explain why (if known):
JV-180, Page 3 of 3
Request to Change Court Order
Rev. January 1, 2014
For your protection and privacy, please press the Clear
This Form button after you have printed the form.
Juvenile(Depe nde nc y(Co urt(A dd ress es(
" Last"Updated"August"2017"
Jackson,"CA"95 64 2 "
1) 295"Fair"Lane"
2) South"Lake"Tahoe"Branch"
1)(526"W."Sycam ore"St.,"
Willows,"CA"9 5 9 8 8 "
Imper ial(
Indepe n d e n ce ,"C A "9 3 5 2 6"
Monterey"Park,"CA"91754 "
San"Rafael,"California "9 4 9 0 3"
Juvenile(Depe nde nc y(Co urt(A dd ress es(
" Last"Updated"August"2017"
Riversid e ,"CA "9 2 5 03"
Indio,"CA"9220 1"
1) Juvenile"Cou rtho u se "
2) Central"County"
3) East"County"
4) North"County"
5) South"County"
1) South"County"
2) North"County"
ATTORNEY OR PARTY WITHOUT ATTORNEY (Name, State Bar number, and address):
E-MAIL ADDRESS (Optional):
Petitioner requests the court issue an order to:
1. Petitioner is:
Minor (12 or older)
2. Names and addresses of interested persons:
3. Minor’s date of birth:
4. Minor’s address:
Minor currently resides with:
Information requested in items 3 and 4 for additional minors is supplied in Attachment .
Petitioner requests the court modify the Order Appointing Guardian to order visitation or modify a previous
visitation order. See Attachment explaining need or changed circumstances.
Petitioner requests the court enforce its previous order for visitation. See Attachment explaining need or
changed circumstances.
Petitioner alleges the matter of visitation is contested and requests the court order Family Court Services Child
Custody Recommending Counseling. See Attachment explaining need.
To keep other people from seeing what you entered on your form, please press the Clear This Form button at the end of the form when finished.
6. Petitioner specifically requests the court order or modify visitation as follows:
Person to have visitation with minor:
(Name and Relationship)
Time and duration of proposed visitation:
Additional information supplied on Attachment .
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.
Signature of Petitioner
Signature of Petitioner
For your protection and privacy, please press the Clear This
Form button after you have printed the form
Clear This Form
Print This Form
Save This Form
Family Law Facilitators List
Last Updated: March 2018
1) 24405 Amador Street
Hayward, CA 94544
2) 1225 Fallon Street
Room 250
Oakland, CA 94544
Alpine: 1354 Johnson Blvd.
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Amador: 500 Argonaut Lane
Jackson, CA 95642
Butte Locations:
1) 1 Court Street
Oroville, CA 95965
2) 1775 Concord Avenue
Chico, CA 95928
Calaveras: 400 Government
Center Drive
San Andreas, CA 95249
Colusa: 547 Market Street
Courthouse Annex
Colusa, CA 95932
Contra Costa Locations:
1) 751 Pine Street
Martinez, CA 94553
2) 100-37
Room #202
Richmond, CA 94805
3) 1000 Center Drive
Pittsburg, CA 94565
Del Norte: 450 H Street
Room 209
Crescent City, CA 95531
El Dorado Locations:
1) 495 Main Street
Placerville, CA 95667
2) 1354 Johnson Blvd., Suite 2
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Fresno: 1130 “O” Street
Fresno, CA 93721-2220
Glenn: 119 North Butte Street
Willows, CA 95988
Humboldt: 825 Fifth Street
Room 305
Eureka, CA 95501
707-445-7256, ext. 1321
Imperial: 939 Main Street
Lower Level
El Centro, CA 92243
Inyo: 314 W. Line Street
Suite D
Bishop, CA 93514
Kern: 1215 Truxtan Avenue
Bakersfield, CA 93301
Kings: 1640 Kings County
Hanford, CA 93230
559-582-1010, ext. 6028
Lake: 7000-A South Center
Clearlake, CA 95422
707-994-6598, ext. 3
Lassen: 2610 Riverside Drive
Susanville, CA 96130
Los Angeles Locations:
1) 111 North Hill Street
Floor, Room 426
Los Angeles, CA 90012
2) 600 South Commonwealth
Floor, Rm 1602
Los Angeles, CA 90005
3) 12720 Norwalk Boulevard
Floor, Room 104E
Norwalk, CA 90650
4) 200 West Compton
Floor, Rm 200F
Compton, CA 90220
5) 42011 Fourth St. West
Floor, Room, 3575A
Lancaster, CA 93534
6) 275 Magnolia Ave.
Room 3101
Long Beach, CA 90802
7) 300 East Walnut Street
Floor, Room 300
Pasadena, CA 91101
8) 400 Civic Center Plaza
Floor, Room 112
Pomona, CA 91766
9) 9425 Penfield Ave.
Room 3101
Chatsworth, CA 91311
10) 825 Maple Avenue
Floor, Room 310
Torrance, CA 90803
Family Law Facilitators List
Last Updated: March 2018
11) 6230 Sylmar Avenue
Floor, Room 350
Van Nuys, CA 91401
Madera: 209 South "G" Street
Madera, CA 93637
Marin: 3501 Civic Center Drive
Room C-27
San Rafael, CA 94903
Mariposa: 5092 Jones Street
Mariposa, CA 95338
Mendocino: 100 N. State
Room 212
Ukiah, CA 95482
1) 2260 “N” Street
Room 1400
Merced, CA 95340
2) 1159 "G" Street
Los Banos, CA 93635
Modoc: 201 South Court
Alturas, CA 96101
1452 Old Mammoth Road
Mammoth Lakes, CA 935446
Monterey: 1200 Aguajito Road
Monterey, CA 93940
831-647-5800, ext. 3005
Napa: 825 Brown Street, 2
Napa, CA 94559
Nevada Locations:
1) 201 Church Street
Suite 9
Nevada City, CA 95959
2) 10075 Levon Street
Truckee, CA 96161
Orange Locations:
1) 341 The City Drive
Floor, Room 101
Orange, CA 92868
2) 1275 North Berkeley Ave.
Upper Level, Room 360
Fullerton, CA 92838
10820 Justice Center Dr.
Roseville, CA 95678
Plumas: 89 Court Street
Quincy, CA 95971
Riverside Locations:
1) 749 N. State Street
Hemet, CA 92543
2) 3535 10
Street, 2
Riverside, CA 92501
3) 46-200 Oasis Street
Room 120
Indio, CA 92201
4) 30755-D Auld Road
Murrieta, CA 92563
3341 Power Inn Rd
Room 113
Sacramento, CA 95826
San Benito: 450 Fourth Street
Hollister, CA 95023
831-636-4057, ext. 107
San Bernardino Locations:
1) 655 West 2
Street, 2
San Bernardino, CA 92415
2) 351 North Aroowhead Ave
Room 326
San Bernardino, CA 92415-
San Diego Locations:
1) 220 West Broadway
Room 4001
San Diego, CA 92101
2) 1555 Sixth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
3) 250 East Main Street
El Cajon, CA 92020
4) 325 South Melrose Drive
Vista, CA 92081
5) 500 Third Avenue
Room 300
Chula Vista, CA 91910
6) 1409 Fourth Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
San Francisco:
400 McAllister St
Room 509
San Francisco, CA 94102
Family Law Facilitators List
Last Updated: March 2018
San Joaquin:
540 E. Main Street
Stockton, CA 95202
San Luis Obispo Locations:
1) 1035 Palm Street
Floor atrium
San Luis Obispo, CA 93408
2) 901 Park Street
Room 112
Paso Robles, CA 93446
San Mateo Locations:
1) 400 County Center
Floor 2
Redwood City, CA 94063
2) 1050 Old Mission Road
South San Francisco, CA
Santa Barbara Locations:
1) 1100 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
2) 312 East Cook Street
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Santa Clara Locations: 201
North First Street
San Jose, CA 95113
Santa Cruz:
1) 1 Second Street
Room 301
Watsonville, CA 95076
831-786-7200, ext. 4
2) 701 Ocean Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Shasta: 1500 Court Street
Room 115
Redding, CA 96001
Sierra Locations:
1) 201 Church Street
Suite 9
Nevada City, CA 95959
2) 100 Courthouse Square
Downieville, CA 95936
Siskiyou: 311 Fourth Street
Yreka, CA 96097
Solano: 600 Union Avenue
Fairfield, CA 94553
Sonoma: 3055 Cleveland Ave
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Stanislaus: 800-11
Room 220
Modesto, CA 95354
Sutter: 1175 Civic Center Blvd.
Yuba City, CA 95993
Tehama: 1740 Walnut Street
Red Bluff, CA 96080
Trinity: 11 Court Street
Room 108
Weaverville, CA 96093
Tulare Locations:
1) 3400 West Mineral King
Suite C,
Visalia, Ca 93291
2) 300 E. Olive
Porterville, CA 93257
41 West Yaney Avenue
Sonora, CA 95370
Ventura Locations:
1) 800 South Victoria Avenue
Room 30
Ventura, CA 93009
2) 3855-F Alamo Street
Simi Valley, CA 93063
3) 4353 East Vineyard Avenue
Room 206
Oxnard, CA 93036
Yolo: 1000 Main Street
Woodland, CA 95695
Yuba: 120 Fifth Street
Marysville, CA 95901
Your name
Your address
Your phone number
Petitioner (or Respondent) in pro per
COUNTY OF _________________
___________________________, )
Petitioner, )
v. )
____________________________, )
Respondent. )
Case No. _________
To the Superior Court of the State of California:
Petitioner/Respondent _____________________(your name) is the
mother/father of __________________________(name of child/children).
My child/children ____________________________(name of
child/children) is/are currently living with _________________ (name of
person to be joined). ____________________ (name of person to be
joined) is currently my child’s/children’s primary caregiver.
__________________ (name of person to be joined) is/is not related to my
child/children as follows: ________________________________________
(describe the relationship between your child/children and the caregiver:
grandparent, aunt, older sister, family friend, etc.).
I am seeking to join ___________________ (name of person to be
joined) to this lawsuit because he/she has physical custody or control of my
child/children and I am seeking to establish or enforce my right to have
visits with my child/children.
Prayer for Relief
For the foregoing reasons, I am seeking this Court to:
1. Issue its Order on Joinder, joining ____________ as a party in
this proceeding;
2. Issue any other orders as necessary in the interests of justice in
this matter.
Dated: _____________________
Respectfully submitted,
Your name
COUNTY OF _________________
__________________________, )
Petitioner, )
v. )
__________________________, )
Respondent. )
Case No. _________
It is hereby ordered that _________________________ is joined as
a party to this proceeding.
Dated: _____________________
To schedule a court hearing and ask the court to make new orders or to change orders in your case. The request
can be about child custody, visitation (parenting time), child support, spousal or partner support, property,
finances, attorney’s fees and costs, or other matters.
To change or end the domestic violence restraining orders granted by the court in Restraining Order After
Hearing (form DV-130). See How Do I Ask to Change or End a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (
DV-400-INFO) for more information.
Forms checklist
Before you have filed a Petition to start your case (form FL-300 may be filed with the Petition).
Form FL-300
, Request for Order, is the basic form you need to file with the court. Depending on your request,
you may need these additional forms:
When specific Judicial Council forms must be used to ask the court for orders. For example, to ask:
If you and the other party have an agreement. For information about how to write up your agreement, get it
approved by the court, and filed in your case, see http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-agreeFL
, speak with an
attorney, or get help at your court’s Self-Help Center or Family Law Facilitator’s Office.
To request child custody or visitation (parenting time) orders, you may need to complete some of these forms:
To request temporary emergency (ex parte) orders, you need:
DO NOT USE Request for Order (form FL-300):
If you plan to have witnesses testify at the hearing, you need form:
If you want to request a separate trial (bifurcation) on an issue, you need form:
If you want attorney’s fees and costs, you need these forms:
If you want child support, you need this form:
If you want spousal or partner support or orders about your finances, you need:
FL-105, Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
FL-311, Child Custody and Visitation (Parenting Time) Application Attachment
FL-312, Request for Child Abduction Prevention Orders
FL-341(C), Children’s Holiday Schedule Attachment
FL-341(D), Additional Provisions—Physical Custody Attachment
FL-341(E), Joint Legal Custody Attachment
A current FL-150, Income and Expense Declaration. You may use form FL-155, Financial Statement
(Simplified) instead of form FL-150 if you meet the requirements listed on page 2 of form FL-155.
A current FL-150, Income and Expense Declaration
A current FL-150, Income and Expense Declaration
FL-319, Request for Attorney’s Fees and Costs Attachment (or provide the information in a declaration)
FL-158, Supporting Declaration for Attorney’s Fees and Costs (or provide the information in a declaration)
FL-305, Temporary Emergency Orders to serve as the proposed temporary emergency orders.
Your declaration describing how and when you gave notice about the request for temporary emergency
orders. You may use form FL-303, Declaration Regarding Notice and Service of Request for Temporary
Emergency (Ex Parte) Orders.
FL-321, Witness List
FL-315, Request or Response to Request for Separate Trial
Form Approved for Optional Use
Judicial Council of California
Revised July 1, 2016
FL-300-INFO, Page 1 of 4
Information Sheet for Request for Order
(Family Law)
Information Sheet for Request for Order
Other forms required by local courts. See item 9 on page 3 of this form for more information.
USE Request for Order (form FL-300):
–For a domestic violence restraining order, use forms DV-100, DV-109, and DV-110.
–For an order for contempt, use form FL-410.
–To set aside a child support order, use form FL-360 or form FL-640.
–To set aside a voluntary declaration of paternity, use form FL-280.
FL-157, Spousal or Partner Support Declaration Attachment (if the request is to change a support judgment)
Revised July 1, 2016
FL-300-INFO, Page 2 of 4
Information Sheet for Request for Order
(Family Law)
Complete form FL-300 (Page 1)
Item 1: List the name(s) of the other person(s)
in your case who will receive your
request. In some cases, this might
include a grandparent who is joined
as a party in the case, a local child
support agency, or a lawyer who
represents a child in the case.
Items Leave these blank. The court will
4–5: complete them if the orders are granted.
Item 6: In some counties, the court clerk will
check item 6 and provide the details for
your required child custody mediation or
recommending counseling appointment.
Other courts require the party or the
party’s lawyer to make the appointment
and then complete item 6 before filing
form FL-300.
Item 2: Leave this blank. The court clerk will
fill in the date, time, and location of the
Item 3: This is a notice to all other parties.
In the next section, check “CHANGE
if you
want to change an existing order. Check
if you are asking that the court make
emergency orders that will be effective until the
hearing date. Then, check all the boxes that apply
to the orders you are requesting.
Caption: Complete the top portion with your
name, address, and telephone number, and the
court address. Next, write the name of the
Petitioner, Respondent, or Other Parent/Party
(You must use the party names as they appear in
the petition that was originally filed with the
court). Then, write the case number.
Items: Leave these blank. The court will
7–8: complete them, if needed.
Complete form FL-300 (pages 2–4)
File your documents
Give your paperwork and the copies you made to
the court clerk to process. You may take them to the
clerk’s office in person, mail them, or, in some
counties, you can e-file them.
Pay filing fees
A fee is due at the time of filing.
The clerk will keep the original and give you back
the copies you made with a court date and time
stamped on the first page of the Request for Order.
The procedure may be different in some courts if
you are requesting temporary emergency orders.
If you cannot afford to pay the filing fee, and you
do not already have a valid fee waiver order in this
case, you can ask the court to waive the fee by
completing and filing form FW-001
, Request to
Waive Court Fees and form FW-003, Order on
Court Fee Waiver.
Complete any additional forms that you need to file
with the Request for Order. Make at least two
copies of your full packet.
Complete additional forms and make copies
Ask your court’s Family Law Facilitator
or Self-Help Center to find out what your
court requires.
Note: You may file one form FL-150 to respond
to items 3, 4, and 6.
Information Sheet for Request for Order
General information about “service”
“Service” is the act of giving your legal papers to
all persons named as parties in the case so that they
know what orders you are asking for and have
information about the hearing.
If the other parties are NOT properly served, the
judge cannot make the orders you requested on the
date of the hearing.
Serve the Request for Order and blank
“Personal Service”
Who can be a “server”
You cannot serve the papers. Have someone else
(who is at least 18 years old) do it. The “server” can
be a friend, a relative who is not involved in your
case, a sheriff, or a professional process server.
Temporary Emergency (Ex Parte) Orders
(nondomestic violence restraining orders)
Courts can make temporary orders in your family
law case to respond to emergencies that cannot wait
to be heard on the court’s regular hearing calendar.
To request these orders:
Complete form FL-300. Describe the emergency
and explain why you need the temporary
emergency orders before the hearing.
Include a declaration describing how and
when you notified the other parties (or why you
could not give notice) about your request and the
hearing (see form FL-303).
Follow your courts local procedures for
reserving the day for the hearing, submitting your
paperwork, and paying filing fees.
Complete form FL-305 to serve as your proposed
temporary orders.
Complete other forms if required by your
local court rules.
Note: Sometimes the papers may be personally
served on the other party’s lawyer (if he or she has
one) in the family law case.
The emergency must involve an immediate danger
or irreparable harm to a party or children in the
case, or an immediate loss or damage to property.
“Service by mail”
means that your “server”
places copies of all the
documents (and blank
forms) in a sealed
envelope and mails them
to the address of each
party being served (or to the party’s lawyer, if
he or she has one).
The other party must be “served” with a:
Important! For questions about personal service
or service by mail, talk with a lawyer or check
with your court’s Family Law Facilitator or Self-
Help Center at http://www.courts.ca.gov/1083.
Personal service means that your “server” walks up
to each person to be served, makes sure he or she is
the right person, and then hand-delivers a copy of
all the papers (and the blank forms) to him or her.
The server may leave the papers near the person if
he or she will not take them.
The server must be 18 years of age or over and
live or work in the county where the mailing took
Copy of the Request for Order and all the other
forms and attachments filed with the court clerk.
Copy of any temporary emergency orders
Blank form FL-320
, Responsive Declaration to
Request for Order.
Blank form FL-150
, Income and Expense
Declaration (if you served form FL-150 or
Information Sheet for Request for Order
Revised July 1, 2016
FL-300-INFO, Page 3 of 4
Information Sheet for Request for Order
(Family Law)
Personal Service
Personal service is the best way to make sure the
other adults in your case are correctly served.
Sometimes you must use personal service.
1. After serving, the server must fill out a Proof of
Personal Service (form FL-330
) and give it to
you. If the server needs instructions, give him or
her form FL-330-INFO, Information Sheet for
Proof of Personal Service.
2. Take the completed Proof of Personal Service
form to the clerk’s office (or e-file it, if
available in your court) at least 5 court days
before your hearing.
Deadline: The deadline for personal service is 16
court days before the hearing date, unless the court
orders a different deadline.
Service by Mail
If you are not required to use personal service, you
may use service by mail.
1. After serving, the server must fill out a Proof of
Service by Mail (form FL-335
) and give it to
you. If the server needs instructions, give him or
her an Information Sheet for Proof of Service by
Mail (form FL-335-INFO
2. Take the completed Proof of Personal Service
form to the clerk’s office (or e-file it, if available
in your court) at least 5 court days before your
Deadline: Unless the court orders a different time,
service by mail must be completed at least 16 court
days PLUS 5 calendar days before the hearing
date (if service is in California). Other time lines
apply for service outside of California.
To change a judgment or final order on any other
issue, including spousal or domestic partner
support, the Request for Order may need to be
personally served on the other party.
You have verified the other party’s current
residence or office address. (You may use
Address Verification (form FL-334
A Request for Order to change a judgment or final
order on the issue of child custody, visitation
(parenting time), or child support may be served by
mail if:
The court did not order personal service; and
The documents do not include temporary
emergency orders;
Important! Check with your court’s Family Law
Facilitator's Office or Self-Help Center, or ask a
lawyer to be sure you are allowed to use service by
mail in your case.
Granted temporary emergency orders;
Does not yet have the power to make orders that
apply to the other party because he or she has
either NOT previously:
a. Response to a Petition;
b. Appearance, Stipulations, and Waivers;
c. Written notice of appearance;
d. Request to strike all or part of the Petition; or
e. Request to transfer the case.
Ordered personal service;
You must use personal service when the court:
Been served with a Summons and Petition;*
Appeared in the case by filing a:
*Note: A Request for Order may be served at the
same time as the family law Summons
and Petition.
When to use personal service or service by mail
Take at least two copies of your documents and filed forms to the hearing. Include a filed Proof of Service form.
Get ready for your hearing
Find more information about preparing for your hearing at http://www.courts.ca.gov/1094.htm.
For information about having the other party testify in court, go to http://www.courts.ca.gov/29283.htm
Do you have questions or need help?
Find a lawyer through your local bar association, the State Bar of California at http://calbar.ca.gov, or the Lawyer
Referral Service at 1-866-442-2529.
For free and low-cost legal help (if you qualify), go to http://www.lawhelpca.org.
Contact the Family Law Facilitator or Self-Help Center for information and assistance, and referrals to local
legal services providers. Go to
Information Sheet for Request for Order
Revised July 1, 2016
FL-300-INFO, Page 4 of 4
Information Sheet for Request for Order
(Family Law)
After the hearing, the order made on form FL-340,
Findings and Order After Hearing, must be filed and served.