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First Judicial District Court

Tribunal del Primer Distrito Judicial

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The information contained here is offered to help you represent yourself in the District Court if you do not have a lawyer.

The information offered here is NOT legal advice and may not apply to every situation. It is STRONGLY recommended that you consult with a lawyer before making decisions or taking actions in your case. Most of the information contained in this page pertains to family law cases, for example, divorce, parentage (paternity), and child support.

Court staff CANNOT give legal advice. “Legal advice” is explaining the law to you, explaining how the law may apply to your case, telling you what form you need to file, or telling you what to do in your case. “Legal advice” also includes telling you what to put in the blanks of pleading forms. Court staff CANNOT fill out the forms for you or tell you how to fill out the forms. They can explain what information the forms are asking for, but you must fill in the forms in your own words. Court staff cannot tell you what you should do in a given situation. Asking, “what would you do if you were me” is asking for legal advice!

Please do not ask the court staff for legal advice.

If you are the Petitioner, Plaintiff, Respondent, or Defendant in a court case, and you do not have a lawyer to advise and represent you, you are a “Self-Represented Litigant” (“SRL”). “Litigant” means a party to a lawsuit.

You may also be referred to as a “Pro Se Litigant”. “Pro Se” means appearing for yourself.

If you are representing yourself, you are both your own lawyer and your own client.

You will be expected to be familiar with, and follow, the statutes (laws) that apply to your case as well as the Rules of Civil Procedure, including the Local Rules, and Rules of Evidence. There are no special rules for self-represented people! The same rules that apply to lawyers apply to you. If you do not follow the law and the rules you may permanently lose important rights.

The information on this website is not intended as legal advice, and does not substitute for seeking independent legal advice regarding the handling of a lawsuit or related legal matters.

Resolution Day & Court-Appointed Attorneys

Resolution Day

Twice monthly, the Family Law judges hold a Resolution Day to resolve order to show cause cases. A group of volunteer attorneys act as settlement facilitators and meet with the parties for a half hour.

Parties scheduled for Resolution Day, sign a consent form which agrees to utilize the volunteer attorney to reach resolution without a hearing. If an agreement is reached, the volunteer attorney will draft a court order, which each party approves by signing it. The order, containing the agreement is read to the judge, then becomes binding once the order is signed by the judge. If partial agreement is reached, a court order will be drafted, signed by the parties and presented to the judge. The judge will hear and decide on the unresolved issues. If parties do not reach an agreement, the judge will hear and decide the issues.

Resolution Day for Civil cases is scheduled into the court docket as needed.

Court-Appointed Attorneys

The court may appoint an attorney to represent anyone who is at risk of being jailed for violation of a law or court order, if they can’t afford to pay an attorney. This is the ONLY time the court will appoint a lawyer to represent someone.

If you are accused of violating a civil law or a court order, you will have been served with an Order to Show Cause. DO NOT IGNORE THIS ORDER! This Order tells you to come to court and tell the judge (“show cause”) why you should NOT be put in jail for violating the law or an order. If you do not appear at your Show Cause hearing, the judge may issue a Bench Warrant for your arrest.

If an Order to Show Cause has been issued against you, you may obtain a packet for Application for Appointment of Attorney from the Self Help Center. The packet includes a Motion for Appointment of Attorney, an Affidavit of Indigency, and an Order for Appointment of Attorney. Fill in the Motion and Affidavit and take them to the Judge assigned to the case. The Judge will review your documents and either grant your motion or deny it. Then take the Motion for Appointment, Affidavit of Indigency, and Order for Appointment of Attorney to the Clerk’s office for filing.

If your Motion is approved, an attorney will be appointed to represent you.

If you are the person who filed a Motion for an Order to Show Cause, you are NOT entitled to an attorney to represent you, because you are not accused of doing something (or failing to do something) for which you can be jailed. Instead, you are the one who is accusing the other person of violating the law or a court order.

The information on this website is not intended as legal advice, and does not substitute for seeking independent legal advice regarding the handling of a lawsuit or related legal matters.

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