Thursday, December 14, 2017


Printable quick reference to the Roadmap

Step 1: Getting Started

Parents who want to obtain custody or visitation orders must first decide which type of family law case they need to open. If you are not married to the other parent and parentage has not been legally established, you will complete a Parentage case. (See item A. below.)

If you are not married to the other parent and you both signed a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity for each child, OR you are married to the other parent and do not wish to file for divorce, legal separation or nullity, you will complete a Custody and Support case. You can open this type of case even if you only want child custody/visitation orders at this time. (See item B. below)

A. Start your Parentage case by completing, copying, and filing the following forms:

You can download the complete forms and instructions for starting a Parentage case.

B. Start your Custody and Support case by completing, copying, and filing the following forms:

You can download the complete forms and instructions for starting a Custody and Support case.

You will need Adobe Reader X (10) or later to download the complete instructions and forms in this Roadmap. Download the Adobe Reader - external link.

Tasks to Complete Step 1

  1. Complete all items on each form that apply to your case.
  2. Make 2 copies of each completed form.
  3. Check the Fees page for the current filing fee.
    • Be prepared to pay the filing fee; OR
    • Apply for a Fee Waiver by completing form FW-001 and FW-003. If applying for a Fee Waiver, make 1 copy of FW-001 and FW-003 and submit with a self-addressed stamped envelope.
  4. File all original forms and copies with the court in one of the following ways:
    • Mail:
    • Sacramento Superior Court
      William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse
      3341 Power Inn Road
      Sacramento, CA 95826

    • Drop Box: Located in the main lobby of the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse and available 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding weekends and Court holidays.
    • In Person: Get a service ticket from Reception, just past the entry screening at the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse, 8:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m.
  5. If you file by mail or in the drop box, do not submit cash. You must include a check or money order for the filing fees, made payable to Sacramento Superior Court, or completed Fee Waiver forms. If you want to pay with cash or credit card, you will need to file in person.
  6. The clerk will stamp each form, keep the originals and return the copies. If you file by mail or in the drop box, be sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope so the copies can be returned to you.
  7. Keep 1 set of the copies for your records. Take these copies with you anytime you go to court.

Note: Once you file, it is your responsibility to notify the court of any change to your address or other contact information. Do this by filing a Notice of Change of Address.

Step 2: Service

Once your forms have been filed, follow this step to serve your spouse.

You can download the complete instructions and forms for Step 2: Service Packet and Documents to be Served on Other Parent Packet (Parentage) and Documents to be Served on the Other Parent Packet (Custody and Support).

Tasks to Complete Step 2

  1. Have someone 18 years or older, not you, personally give your spouse (the Respondent) the other set of filed copies along with the packet, Documents to be Served on Other Parent.
  2. Have your server complete and sign the FL-115 Proof of Service of Summons. File this form with the court within 60 days using one of the filing options listed in Step 1, item 4.

Note: The Respondent has at least 30 days (from the day they are served) to file a Response with the Court. If he/she does not respond, you can still continue with your parentage case.

Step 3: Child Custody and Visitation Orders

If child custody and visitation orders are needed before final judgment, you may file a Request for Order.

You can download the complete instructions and forms for Step 3: Child Custody and Visitation Orders (Request for Order Packet).

Tasks to Complete Step 3

  1. Complete all items on each form that apply to your case.
  2. Make 2 copies of each completed form.
  3. Check the Fees page for the current filing fee.
    • Be prepared to pay the filing fee; OR
    • Apply for a Fee Waiver by completing form FW-001 and FW-003. If applying for a Fee Waiver, make 1 copy of FW-001 and FW-003 and submit with a self-addressed stamped envelope. If you applied for and received a Fee Waiver in Step 1, you do not need to apply again.
  4. File all original forms and copies with the court in one of the following ways:
    • Mail:
    • Sacramento Superior Court
      William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse
      3341 Power Inn Road
      Sacramento, CA 95826

    • Drop Box: Located in the main lobby of the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse and available 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding weekends and Court holidays.
    • In Person: Get a service ticket from Reception, just past the entry screening at the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse, 8:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m.
  5. If you file by mail or in the drop box, do not submit cash. You must include a check or money order for the filing fees, made payable to Sacramento Superior Court, or completed Fee Waiver forms. If you want to pay with cash or credit card, you will need to file in person.
  6. The clerk will stamp each form, keep the originals and return the copies. If you file by mail or in the drop box, be sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope so the copies can be returned to you.
  7. Keep 1 set of the copies for your records. Take these copies with you anytime you go to court.
  8. Have someone 18 years or older, not you, personally give the other parent (the Respondent) the other set of filed copies along with the Response packet - Documents to be Served to Other Party (Request for Order). If the Summons and Petition have not been served, you must also serve them at this time.
  9. Have your server complete and sign the FL-335 Proof of Service by Mail. If Summons and Petition were also served, use FL-115 Proof of Service of Summons for all forms served.
  10. File the original form and a copy with the Court using one of the filing options listed in Step 3, item 4 above.
  11. Go to your court hearing. Bring copies of all your filed documents.

Note: You may complete Steps 3 and 4 at the same time if you need orders for custody and child support.

Step 4: Child Support Orders

If child support orders are needed before final judgment, you may file a Request for Order. You must also file a current Income and Expense Declaration.

You can download the complete instructions and forms for Step 4: Child Support Orders (Request for Order Packet) and for Income and Expense Packet.

Tasks to Complete Step 4

  1. Complete all items on each form that apply to your case.
  2. Make 2 copies of each completed form.
  3. Check the Fees page for the current filing fee.
    • Be prepared to pay the filing fee; OR
    • Apply for a Fee Waiver by completing form FW-001 and FW-003. If applying for a Fee Waiver, make 1 copy of FW-001 and FW-003 and submit with a self-addressed stamped envelope. If you applied for and received a Fee Waiver in Step 1, you do not need to apply again.
  4. File all original forms and copies with the court in one of the following ways:
    • Mail:
    • Sacramento Superior Court
      William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse
      3341 Power Inn Road
      Sacramento, CA 95826

    • Drop Box: Located in the main lobby of the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse and available 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding weekends and Court holidays.
    • In Person: Get a service ticket from Reception, just past the entry screening at the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse, 8:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m.
  5. If you file by mail or in the drop box, do not submit cash. You must include a check or money order for the filing fees, made payable to Sacramento Superior Court, or completed Fee Waiver forms. If you want to pay with cash or credit card, you will need to file in person.
  6. The clerk will stamp each form, keep the originals and return the copies. If you file by mail or in the drop box, be sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope so the copies can be returned to you.
  7. Keep 1 set of the copies for your records. Take these copies with you anytime you go to court.
  8. Have someone 18 years or older, not you, personally give the other parent (the Respondent) the other set of filed copies along with the Response packet - Documents to be Served to Other Party (Request for Order) and blank Income and Expense Packet. If the Summons and Petition have not been served, you must also serve them at this time.
  9. Have your server complete and sign the FL-335 Proof of Service by Mail. If Summons and Petition were also served, use FL-115 Proof of Service of Summons for all forms served.
  10. File the original form and a copy with the Court using one of the filing options listed in Step 4, item 4 above.
  11. Go to your court hearing. Bring copies of all your filed documents.

Step 5: Finding the Right Path to Judgment

There are three different ways to reach your judgment. Answer the questions below to find which of the three ways fits your case.

Did the other parent file a Response?

  1. If the answer is No, go to Default Judgment (Step 6).
  2. If the answer is Yes, answer the following question:

Are you and the other parent in full agreement about parentage, custody, visitation, and child support?

  1. If the answer is Yes, go to Judgment by Agreement (Step 7)
  2. If the answer is No, go to Contested Judgment (Step 8)

Step 6: Default Judgment

If the other parent has not served and filed a Response and more than 30 days have passed since he or she was served with the Summons and Petition, you are eligible to proceed by Default.

You can download the complete instructions and forms for How to Obtain a Parentage of Custody and Support Judgment by Default packet..

Tasks to Complete Step 6

  1. Complete all items on each form that apply to your case.
  2. Make 2 copies of each completed form.
  3. Clip to the original FL-190 one envelope addressed to you and one envelope addressed to the other parent with sufficient postage to return the FL-190 only.
  4. File all original forms and copies plus 1 additional envelope addressed to the other parent with sufficient postage to send the FL-165 and FL-150 only with the court in one of the following ways:
    • Mail:
    • Sacramento Superior Court
      William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse
      3341 Power Inn Road
      Sacramento, CA 95826

    • Drop Box: Located in the main lobby of the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse and available 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding weekends and Court holidays.
    • In Person: Get a service ticket from Reception, just past the entry screening at the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse, 8:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m. Be sure to tell the clerk you need a court hearing date.
  5. The clerk will stamp each form, keep the originals, mail 1 copy to the other parent in the stamped envelope you provided, and return 1 copy to you. If you file by mail or in the drop box, be sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope so your copy can be returned to you.
  6. Keep your copy for your records. Take your copies with you anytime you go to court.
  7. Go to your court hearing. Bring copies of all your filed documents.

Step 7: Judgment by Agreement

If you and the other parent agree on all issues and you wish to proceed by stipulation or agreement, we recommend that you consult with a private attorney. Alternatively you can do your own legal research in a law library or use some of the various commercial resources available at your local book store.

Complete, copy and submit the following forms:

There are other optional Judicial Council forms you can include.

Tasks to Complete Step 7

  1. Complete all items on each form that apply to your case.
  2. Make two (2) copies of each completed form.
  3. Submit all original forms and copies plus a large manila envelope addressed to yourself with enough postage to return 2 copies of all the forms, and a legal #10 envelope addressed to the other parent, with sufficient postage to return the FL-190 only, with the court in one of the following ways:
  4. Wait for the court to mail you back the filed endorsed copies. If the documents are returned unfiled or rejected, then go to Step 8. If the documents are returned filed, have one copy of the filed Judgment (FL-250) with all attachments mailed to the other parent by someone 18 years or older, not you.
  5. Have your server complete and sign the FL-335 Proof of Service by Mail.
  6. File this form and a copy with the court using one of the filing options listed in Step 6, item 3 above. Keep 1 set of all the filed documents for your records.

Step 8: Contested Judgment

If the other parent served and filed a Response, you will need to request a hearing to proceed to Judgement by filing a Request for Order. You must also file an Income and Expense Declaration.

You can download the complete instructions and forms for Request for Order and for Income and Expense Packet.

Tasks to Complete Step 8:

  1. Complete all items on each form that apply to your case.
  2. Make 2 copies of each completed form.
  3. File all original forms and copies plus 1 additional envelope addressed to the other parent with sufficient postage to send the FL-165 and FL-150 only with the court in one of the following ways:
    • Mail:
    • Sacramento Superior Court
      William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse
      3341 Power Inn Road
      Sacramento, CA 95826

    • Drop Box: Located in the main lobby of the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse and available 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding weekends and Court holidays.
    • In Person: Get a service ticket from Reception, just past the entry screening at the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse, 8:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m.
  4. The clerk will stamp each form, keep the originals and return the copies. If you file by mail or in the drop box, be sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope so the copies can be returned to you.
  5. Keep 1 set of the copies for your records. Take these copies with you anytime you go to court.
  6. Have someone 18 years or older, not you, personally give the other parent (the Respondent) the other set of filed copies along with the Response packet - Documents to be Served to Other Party Request for Order) and blank Income and Expense Packet.
  7. Have your server complete and sign the FL-330 Proof of Personal Service.
  8. File this form and a copy with the court using one of the filing options listed in Step 8, item 3 above.
  9. Go to your court hearing. Bring copies of all your filed documents.

Note: If you are not able to complete the Judgment yourself, you may take the Minute Order and envelopes with postage to the Family Law Self-Help Center to have the Judgment prepared for you.

Step 9: Preparing Judgment After Hearing

After your hearing (from Step 6 or Step 8) you may receive a formal Judgment prepared in court. If the Judgment is not prepared in court, you must have a formal Judgment prepared for the Judge to review and sign. Forms that will be needed as part of your Judgment are:

You can download the complete instructions and forms for Step 9: Parentage/Custody Judgment.

Tasks to Complete Step 9:

  1. Complete all items on each form that apply to your case.
  2. Make 2 copies of each completed form. Address a large (9x12) envelope to yourself with sufficient postage to return all the copies to you. Address a legal #10 envelope to the other parent with sufficient postage to return the FL-190 only. Use the same address that you printed at the bottom of the FL-190. Place all the forms, copies, and envelopes in another large (9x12) envelope.
  3. File all original forms and copies with the court in one of the following ways:
  4. Your file and the documents you submitted will be reviewed by the Judge, and if everything is in compliance, you will receive your signed Judgment and Notice of Entry of Judgment in the envelopes you provided.
  5. When you receive the filed documents back from the Court, have 1 copy of the filed Judgment (FL-250) mailed to the other parent by someone 18 years or older, not you.
  6. Have your server complete and sign the FL-335 Proof of Service by Mail.
  7. File this form and a copy with the court using one of the filing options listed in Step 9, item 3 above.

Note: If you are not able to complete the Judgment yourself, you may take the Minute Order and envelopes with postage to the Self-Help Center to have the Judgment prepared for you.

Step 10: Amend Birth Record

If the Court ordered a change in a child's name or a parent's name, you will need to amend (correct) the child's birth certificate.

Tasks to Complete Step 10:

  1. Request a certified copy of the Judgment from Records.
  2. Follow the instructions for amending or correcting your child's birth record at California Department of Public Health - external link.