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Family Law

Family Law Division

The Family Law Division located at the North Butte County Courthouse facility (1775 Concord Avenue, Chico) handles all Family Law matters (including Dissolution of Marriage, Legal Separation, Nullity, Paternity and Summary Dissolution) and related issues of Child Custody and Visitation, Child and Spousal Support, and Community Property. The Family Law Division also hears cases of Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse.

Adoption cases are handled in the Juvenile Division.

Click here for Family Court Services and Mediation, including the Online Mediation/CCRC Orientation.

A Dissolution of Marriage or Registered Domestic Partnership is a legal action that ends marriage or a registered domestic partnership.

  • Residency Requirement - To obtain a divorce in California, you or your spouse/partner must have lived in California for the last six months and have lived for the last three months in the county where you file for divorce.
  • No "Fault" Required - No one has to prove that either spouse or partner is "guilty" or "innocent".
  • It is not necessary that both persons agree to end the relationship. One spouse or partner cannot make the other stay in the relationship.
  • It takes a minimum of six months from the date divorce papers are served (given to) the other party before a divorce can be final. However, you are not automatically divorced at the end of six months. At least one spouse/partner must complete the required legal process and obtain a written judgment.

For more information about dissolutions, click here .

 Dissolution Roadmap

A Legal Separation is a legal action filed by a married person or domestic partner who wants to stay married or in the domestic partnership, but also wants to resolve all other issues, such as child custody, child and spousal support, and property division.

  • There are no residency requirements for obtaining a Legal Separation.
  • Sometimes a person will file a legal separation because he/she does not meet the residency requirements for filing for a divorce. Then, after the residency requirements are met, the action is amended from a legal separation to a divorce (Dissolution).
  • Sometimes people stay in a marriage or domestic partnership for religious reasons or to be able to retain medical insurance benefits for a spouse or partner.

For more information about legal separations, click here .

 Legal Separation Roadmap

A Nullity of Marriage or Domestic Partnership (Annulment) is a legal action to determine that a marriage or domestic partnership is not legally valid. An annulment restores the parties to the status of single persons, as though they were never married.

  • Certain conditions must be met before an Annulment is granted.
  • The person who files for the annulment will have to prove to the Court that one of the conditions for an Annulment has been met.
  • There are no residency requirements.

For more information about nullity, click here .

 Nullity Roadmap

This action can be used by a married couple to end the marriage. This action is very limited and can only be used by a married couple which meets the following requirements:

  1. The parties have been married less than five (5) years as of the date the action is filed.
  2. There are no children together born before or during the marriage, including by adoption, and the wife to her knowledge is not pregnant as of the date the action is filed.
  3. Neither party has any interest/ownership in real estate.

The married couple jointly signs the necessary paperwork and the originals are filed with the Court. After waiting six (6) months, either party can file the document requesting that the marriage be ended.

For more information about summary dissolutions, click here .

A paternity case is a legal action filed by an unmarried mother or unmarried father to establish who is the legal father of a child or children. In order to obtain child support, or custody and visitation orders, unmarried parents must first establish paternity.

For more information on paternity cases, click here .

 Paternity Roadmap

More Information

The Notice of Change of Address form can be accessed and completed online by  clicking here .

After you complete this form, you will need to:
  1. Print it out.
  2. Make copies for all the parties in the case.
  3. Have someone over 18 - Not You - mail to the other party or parties. The person who mails the form is the "server".
  4. The "server" fills out page 2 of the Original Notice of Change of Address.
  5. Make another copy of the now complete form.
  6. File the complete Original and the copy at the court where your case was heard.
  7. Keep the filed copy for your records.

Important: If you are involved in a domestic violence situation and want your address to be confidential, please see the State website Safe at Home  for information about getting a safe confidential mailing address.

Note: The information in this document is not legal advice. It is intended to provide general information, primarily for the self-represented litigant on what to expect at a Status Conference.

General Information

As of January 1, 2013, all California family courts are governed by the "family centered case resolution" process. This case management process is aimed at early settlement, quicker trial dates, reduced expense of litigation, and better assistance to families. Your case will be managed through one or more Status Conferences at which the parties, attorneys and a judicial officer will discuss a "case resolution plan".

In Butte County, all (Dissolutions, legal separation, nullity, parentage and grandparent) cases filed after January 1, 2013 are set for a Status Conference within 180 days of filing of the petition. The "Notice" of the date of the first Status conference is provided on the Petition, which must be served along with the Summons. Additional Status Conferences will be set by the Court as needed or if requested by a party. Additional information can be found in the Family Code 2450, 2451, California Rule of Court 5.83 , and the Butte County Superior Court Local Rules.

Attendance and Orders

Each party's attorney or self-represented litigant must attend the initial, and any subsequent Status Conferences in person, unless the Court orders otherwise. Failure to attend a scheduled Status Conference without leave of Court may subject the case to dismissal.

Both attorneys and self-represented litigants must be familiar with the case and be prepared to discuss the party's positions on all issues as well as potential stipulations on required legal procedures. The case management plan will become a written order signed by the judicial officer.

Status Conference

An initial Status conference is a meeting of the parties and the attorneys with a judicial officer for the purpose of reviewing the case's progress towards disposition in a timely and effective manner in accordance with the milestones, disposition standards set forth in California Rule of Court 5.83 . The judicial officer may take action including but not limited to setting additional status conferences, setting a family-centered case resolution conference, or scheduling the case for further review.

Parties or Counsel must inform the Court of the following:

  1. The attendance of both parties at Family Court Services mediation;
  2. The service by both parties of a complete Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure;
  3. The filing with the court of a Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure and Income and Expense Declaration;
  4. The readiness of the parties to participate in mediation;
  5. The appropriateness of referral to arbitration;
  6. The willingness of the parties to limit, schedule, or expedite discovery, including the willingness to provide the opposing party, without a discovery request:
    1. The name, address, and telephone number of each individual likely to have desirable information that supports the party’s disclosures, and
    2. A copy of, or a description by category and location of, all documents, data compilations, and tangible things that are in the possession, custody or control of the party and that supports the party's disclosures;
  7. The appropriateness of implementation of a family-centered case resolution plan pursuant to Family Code section 2451; and
  8. The willingness of the parties to stipulate to the appointment of court experts, and allocate the expert's expense, or to schedule a hearing for the appointment and expense allocation of court experts.
The Court may:
  1. Schedule disclosure of expert witnesses, by stipulation;
  2. Inquire whether issues can be narrowed by stipulation and set dates for the filing of stipulations;
  3. Set dates for further status conferences, as needed, and no less often than every six months;
  4. Set dates for other events that must take place before the next status conference;
  5. Set the date for trial and/or settlement conferences; and
  6. Take such other action, as permitted by law, which could promote the just and efficient disposition of the case.

Pre-Conference Requirements

Prior to the 1st Status Conference (in Dissolution and Legal Separation cases), each party shall serve the other with:

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