For unmarried parents, parentage needs to be established legally. Once legal parentage is established, the court can make orders about custody, visitation and child support. Other ways that a person can be established as a legal parent are: signing a Declaration of Paternity or Parentage at the hospital when the child is born, or having a child support judgment entered establishing legal parentage. 

The Petition to Determine a Parental Relationship is the pleading used when there is no legal father established for a child.  

A Petition for Custody and Support is used when there is a legal father but there are no orders for custody or visitation.  

If you already have an open case but do not have orders you may want to contact the Self-Help center for assistance and referral to the proper clinic.

The Self-Help Center offers a clinic that provides assistance in filling out the forms related to establishing an original custody or visitation order. Please check the clinic calendar for the “Petition for Custody and Support & Beginning Parentage” clinic.

For more information on parentage cases, click here.  

Self-Help Center Hours

Monday through Friday:

In Person 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Telephone 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Limited In-Person Assistance

There are several Self-Help resources that can be accessed from anywhere with internet. The California Court's website has information on a variety of case types and issues, and court forms. If you want help completing court forms online, Odyssey Guide & File is a free program that guides a user through a series of questions with the goal of producing legal forms that may be printed, then filed with the court.