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Answered By: Nancy McEnroe
Last Updated: Jun 25, 2021     Views: 955

How to get started with filing for divorce without an attorney

Filing for a divorce when you cannot hire an attorney -

A good place to start when researching the California court procedures for divorce or separation is the California Courts Self-Help website -  This site not only provides legal background on the topic but also provides links to the many forms involved for this legal process.  The forms can be filled out online and then printed for submission to the court to start your case.  The forms you need to fill out depend on your personal circumstances.  The Courts website can help you decide which forms are needed to start your case.  It also provides information on the steps needed – such as service of process, etc.

After you have completed your initial research and have completed your basic forms, the staff at the Alameda County Superior Court Self-Help Center and Family Law Facilitator's Office may be able to review them for you before you file the forms with the Alameda County  Clerk of the Court.  The latest information about the office's hours and online internet chat services under COVID can be found at   Before the COVID pandemic, there was a self-help class on how to handle your divorce.  The Family Law Facilitator should be able to give you information as to whether such a program is currently being conducted.

The hours of the court have been changing over the past months.  You may want to double-check with Self-Help or on the court's website for the latest information before you try to file your paperwork.

Finding a pro bono (no fee) attorney to help with your divorce –

You may wish to contact the Alameda County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service for information with being connected with an attorney who will charge on a sliding scale to assist you with your divorce.   The information to contact the referral service is -   Bay Area Legal Incubator  is affiliated with ACBA and charges on a sliding scale.  

Information  for a private organization that provides low-cost family law assistance can be found at


In our library, you can get more information in publications like Family Law Basics at the call number KFC115 .F36 2019 and How to do your own divorce in California at the call number KFC126 .Z9 S532