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Family Law

Family Law Information

Welcome to the Superior Court of California, County of Merced Family Law Division.

Family Court Services

The Family Court Services Division is responsible for performing Child Custody Recommending Counseling.  Click the button below for more information.

Family Court Services

Legal Advice

Please be aware the superior court is not authorized by law to give legal advice to private individuals. If you are seeking legal advice as to which forms should be filed, you need to contact a private attorney.

Family Law Child Custody Recommending Counselor

Family Court Services perform Child Custody Recommending Counseling (CCRC) which is a process where families work together with an experienced counselor toward the goal of reaching an agreement regarding a parenting plan for their children. Participation is completed in a telephone or video conference on a date scheduled by the Court.

For information on the Family Court Services process, click here. For Spanish, click here.

Before participating in a scheduled CCRC appointment, please watch this video: Orientation to Family Court Mediation and Child Custody Recommending Counseling

Complete the Confidential Information for Child Custody Recommending Counseling form , for Spanish, click here and mail it to the Merced Superior Court, Family Law Division at 627 W. 2stst Street, Merced, CA 95340 at least one (1) week before your scheduled appointment.

If you would like each party to meet with the Family Law Court Services (FCS) Child Custody Recommending Counselor separately and at separate times, please fill out the Request for Separate Child Custody Recommending Counseling form.

Case Searches

For case search information, please visit the Records Search page.

Fees

Please visit the Fees page for the current list of fees.

Payment Information

Over the Counter

Payments are accepted over the counter with cash, cashier’s check, money order, or credit or debit card that have a Visa or MasterCard logo. In addition to payment of fees, a processing and convenience fee will be added to your credit card.

By Mail

The Court accepts money order and cashier’s checks by mail.

Public Computer

The court provides a public computer in the Family Law office that can be used to browse the following sites:

A set of instructions are provided to assist you in using this service.

If you have your own device that supports wireless networking, you can bring it into the courthouse and connect to our Free Public Wi-Fi.

Family Law FAQs

This will require a process of filing correct papers with the Family Law Clerks office and serving these papers on the other parent.

There may also be filing fees involved which you may request the court to waive. Waiver of court fees is based on your current financial situation.

You may be required to attend a court date, and in many instances, attend an Orientation class and a scheduled meeting with the Child Custody Recommending Counselor.

Unfortunately, the Family Law Clerks are unable to ‘advise’ you which are the correct papers to file to get custody or visitation orders, but the Courts do offer free legal assistance through the Self Help Center.

You may also want to refer to the websites designed for parties who do not have an attorney to represent them for the answers to this question. Please refer to the Top External Links of the Court website for these websites.

It is important that you always keep a copy of your court order with you for enforcement. A court order is a document that sets forth the order(s) that were made. It is signed by a Judge and is file marked by the courts. It is commonly called the “Findings and Order after Hearing” or may also be called “Child Custody Recommending Counseling Order/Agreement”.

It is recommended that you contact local law enforcement if you are having trouble ‘enforcing’ a court order. The officer that may be assisting you will normally want to see a copy of your court order.

The Orientation date is set by the court. It is a mandatory class that each party is required to attend, in most circumstances, prior to a scheduled Child Custody Recommending Counseling date. You may ask the courts to ‘waive’ your required attendance at the Orientation class if you qualify under one of the following conditions: you have attended the class within the last 18 months, or you live over 250 miles away from Merced County. You can find this Formal Request for Waiver of Orientation Hearing on the Court website under Local Forms of the Family Law Division. Please note this form must be submitted for approval and filing no later than 4:00 pm two days before the scheduled Orientation.

The Child Custody Recommending Counseling date is set by the court. It is normally court mandated that parents attend Child Custody Recommending Counseling prior to the Judge making orders regarding custody and/or visitation. There will normally be a court date set following the Child Custody Recommending Counseling date. If you missed your Child Custody Recommending Counseling date you will have the opportunity to explain to the Judge at the Further court date, the situation that arose which caused you to ‘miss’ this Child Custody Recommending Counseling date. At this time it would be at the Judge’s discretion to reset the Child Custody Recommending Counseling date. Please be aware that the Judge can order you to pay ‘Child Custody Recommending Counseling Reimbursement fees’ for a missed Child Custody Recommending Counseling date which is normally in the amount of $50.00.

Hearing dates are set by the court. It is not possible to inform you what the Judge will order in the event that you miss a court date. It is recommended that you check your court file as soon as possible after a ‘missed’ court date to find out what happened in your absence. If you are disagreeable with the orders that were made at this hearing date, you may want to use the services of the Self Help Center for further assistance. The Self Help hours and location are located on the Court website.

Continuance of these dates will require a stipulation signed by all parties involved which sets forth the date(s) in which the Orientation, Child Custody Recommending Counseling, or Hearing date is currently scheduled for and date(s) the parties agree to continue the matter to. The Stipulation and Order to Continue or Advance a Court date can be found on the Court website under Local Forms.

The Stipulation and Order to Continue or Advance a Court date must be filed prior to the scheduled date(s).

There is no filing fee to file this stipulation.

It is acceptable to give notice of an ex parte hearing by a phone call. When you give notice to the other party of an ex parte hearing, be sure to let the other party know the date, time and courtroom location of the ex parte hearing. Additionally, please have a copy of the proposed ex parte order to give to the other party ‘prior’ to the matter being called in court.

Please note that you do not want to violate any restraining orders that may be in effect and you may need an uninvolved party to give notice of the hearing to the other party as well as the third party giving a copy of the proposed ex parte order to the other party.

You may purchase the Divorce packet from the Family Law Clerks’ office which includes all the basic forms needed to file for Divorce including the final Judgment.

You may also complete and download these forms from helpful websites designed for parties who do not have an attorney to represent. Please refer to the Top External Links of the Court website for these websites.

Unfortunately, the Family Law Clerks are unable to ‘advise’ you which are the correct papers to file for divorce, but the court does offer free legal assistance thru the Self-Help Center. Please refer to the Court website for hours and location of these services.

All of the basic forms for finalizing a Divorce are in the Divorce packet which is sold in the Family Law Clerks office.

You may also complete and download these forms from helpful websites designed for parties who do not have an attorney to represent. Please refer to the Top External Links of the Court website for these websites.

Unfortunately, the Family Law Clerks are unable to ‘advise’ you which are the correct papers to file to finalize the divorce, but the court does offer free legal assistance thru the Self-Help Center. Please refer to the Court website for hours and location of these services.

In most circumstances, it is required that the other party be served with papers that set forth your request for orders from the court. This is a requirement that normally needs to be satisfied before the Judge can grant the orders you are requesting.

There are different methods that can be considered service on the other party other than personally serving the other party. It is recommended that you seek assistance on the requirement(s) for these alternative methods of service through our court’s free legal assistance of the Self Help Center.

The only parties that are able to view the confidential file are the parties named in the action who must provide a picture I.D. or the attorney of record of the parties named in the action.

A party not named in the action may view the file if they can provide a letter signed by one of the parties to the action authorizing that individual to view the file. This individual with written authorization for viewing the file must provide a picture I.D.

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