civil Self-Help

Civil self-help is designed to provide information and forms for people who are representing themselves in court. The information on this website is intended to help guide you through the court system.

Self-Help Information Centers provide general assistance to people who do not have attorney.

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Civil Harassment Restraining Orders

A Civil Harassment Restraining Order is a court order that protects people from harassment. You can ask for this court order if you are worried about your safety because someone stalked, harassed, threatened you with violence, financially abused you, or sexually assaulted you.

The court can order a person not to: threaten or harass you, contact or go near you, your home, your work, or have a gun. You can also ask for protection for your family members or other household members. You can get a Civil Harassment Restraining Order against people who are not close to you, such as roommates, neighbors, co-workers, or non-immediate family members.

For more information, click the links below:

Name Change

In order to get a court order changing your name or a child’s name, you must file a petition in the Superior Court in the county where you live. You can then use the court order to change the birth certificate, passport, social security card, driver’s license, and other documents.

After you file your petition to change the name, you will get a court hearing. Before your hearing, you will have to put a notice in a court-approved newspaper for 4 weeks in a row, one day per week. If you are trying to change the name of your child, you will also have to let the other parent know so that he or she has a chance to come to court if he or she doesn’t agree. If both parents agree, they both can sign the petition to change their child’s name.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Most people solve their legal problems without a trial. “ADR” can help.

What is ADR?

ADR (“Alternative Dispute Resolution”) is a way to solve legal problems without going through trial. Two examples are Arbitration and Mediation.


Arbitration is like a trial, but it is less formal. It takes place in an office, not a courtroom. The parties (people with a legal dispute) present their evidence to an “arbitrator.” The arbitrator decides who wins the case and how much they win. There are two kinds of arbitration. “Binding” arbitration means that the arbitrator’s decision is final. There is no appeal or trial after that decision. “Nonbinding” arbitration means that after the arbitration, either party can request a trial. But if the party who requests the trial gets a worse decision at trial, there may be penalties.


Mediation is nothing like a trial. The parties meet with a mediator in an office. The mediator may meet with the parties separately or together. The mediator listens to all the parties and tries to help them work out a solution that works for everyone. The mediator does not make a decision and does not talk to the judge about the case. If the parties cannot agree on a solution, the case can go to trial.

There are many advantages to Mediation:

  • Mediation saves time: Your dispute may be resolved in less time than it takes to proceed through court;
  • Mediation saves money: The number of trips to court are reduced, saving time and money;
  • Mediation encourages cooperation: The parties can work together, with the help of the mediator, to resolve their case in a way that makes sense to them;
  • Mediation can reduce stress: Mediation is informal, and saves time and money.  There are fewer court appearances required and the dispute can be resolved sooner, so you don’t have an unresolved dispute hanging over your head for years; 
  • Mediation encourages participation: In mediation, the parties have more opportunity to tell their side of the story;
  • Mediation can be more satisfying: In mediation, the parties have more control over the outcome of the dispute.  

For more information or to locate ADR programs:

© 2016 Superior Court of California, County of Riverside