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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.

Family Court Services

Mediation for Developing Child Custody and Timesharing Agreements

If you have a parentage (paternity) case, or you are divorcing and you have children under the age of 18, you will have to file a Custody Plan or other document that describes how you and the children’s other parent will take care of them.

If you can’t come up with a Custody Plan on your own, mediation may be the best way to help the two of you work through your differences.

A mediator is a neutral third person who has training in mediation and communication techniques. The mediator’s job is to help you try to work out a solution that you both can live with. The mediator does not tell the parents what to do with their children, but helps them talk to each other, focus on the children, and explore possibilities. The mediation sessions are confidential and neither the parents nor the mediator may divulge information to the court that was acquired during the session.

 There are several places where can you find a mediator:

  • Family Court Services offers mediation with court employees who are licensed professional mental health counselors with extensive mediation training and experience. Mediation through Family Court Services is on a sliding fee scale.
  • Private mediators also offer mediation. They have varying types of training and experience. They are usually not lawyers. Their fees vary from person to person, and may depend on the type of case.
  • Some attorneys offer mediation. They also have varying types of training and experience. When an attorney acts as a mediator, they cannot represent or give either person legal advice, but they can give legal information. Their fees vary from person to person, and may depend on the type of case.

What happens if you can't agree on a custody plan after mediating?

  • Priority Consultation (usually ½ day) by Family Court Services.
  • Advisory Consultation (usually all day, more detailed, may also include interviews with other persons, for instance, teachers, doctors, babysitters, etc.) by Family Court Services.

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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