Civil & Family Law


The Civil Division of the Court processes actions brought by people, businesses or parties to recover property, to force someone to honor a contract, or to protect one's personal rights. This Division handles all civil matters, including family law, probate, guardianships, conservatorships, minor's compromises, civil, small claims and adoptions.

The Civil Division provides family law information, referral assistance to the public, legal forms and procedural guidance. Court employees are available to assist you, but are prohibited by law from giving legal advice.

Family law is the general term used to refer to the various actions regarding marital relationships and relationships between parents and children, as well as domestic violence.

Civil Law FAQs

Civil cases involve a lawsuit in which one party sues another to:

  • Recover money or property.
  • To enforce a contract.
  • To collect damages for injury.
  • To protect some civil right.

Civil matters include family law, probate, guardianships, conservatorships, minor’s compromises, civil, small claims and adoptions.

Civil lawsuits (other than family, juvenile, probate, unlawful detainer, and civil harassment cases) can generally be divided into three categories depending on how much money is involved:

When the dollar amount is …. 

This case is usually called a ….

Under $10,000 Small Claims case
Up to $25,000 Limited jurisdiction civil case
Over $25,000 Unlimited jurisdiction civil case

Please see our Self-Help page for more information.

When filing documents, you need to provide the clerk with one original and the appropriate number of copies.  The clerk cannot accept documents that are not stapled and organized.  Please make sure all documents are dated and signed.  Please include the appropriate filing fees (see Statewide Civil Fee Schedule (effective January 1, 2016) or submit an Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs (also see below)

Fee Waivers are available for indigent plaintiffs and defendants. See Information Sheet on Waiver of Court Fees and Costs For Fee Waiver eligibility guidelines.

You may appear in person at the clerk’s office to request copies or you can mail a request for copies to the clerk’s office.  See Contact Information above for address, phone number, and open hours.

If requesting copies by mail, write a letter specifically stating what it is that you want, along with a case number and payment.  You must include a self-addressed, stamped envelope to receive copies through the mail.  Turnaround time is usually within 1 to 2 days.

Copies are $.50 per page (double-sided sheet equals 2 pages).  If you need a document certified, the cost is $25.00 in addition to the copy price.  Payment may be made by check, cash, credit card or money order.

The law and motion calendar is generally heard on Mondays at 1:30 p.m. in Department 5, which is located at 1740 Walnut Street, Red Bluff on the 2nd Floor.  See Calendars and Directions for additional information.

You may contact Court Call at 1-888-88COURT (1-888-882-6878) to make an appearance by phone.

In order for the court to receive faxed signatures, you will need to go through a fax filing agency, otherwise an original signature is required.

Yes, please see our Case Management Conferences page for more information.

Family Law FAQs

Please refer to the California Court’s website to learn about Divorce, Legal Separation and Annulment.

A summary dissolution is a simplified way to get divorced.  See the California Court’s website to find out if you qualify for a Summary Dissolution Qualifications.

A paternity suit establishes parentage.  An action is filed by an unmarried mother or by an unmarried father who have minor children together. Through this action, the Court will determine paternity (or non-paternity if the father is found not to be the biological father of the minor children), and make custody and visitation as well as child support orders.

Child support is the amount of money that the court orders one parent to pay the other parent every month for the support of the child(ren). California has a formula (called a "guideline") for figuring out how much child support should be paid in all cases. See the California Court’s website to learn more about how Child Support is calculated.

Legal custody determines which parent will make decisions concerning the child’s health, safety, education and welfare. If one parent is authorized to make these decisions alone it is known as sole legal custody, and it is called joint legal custody if both parents retain those rights. If there is joint legal custody, the parents should cooperate in making the decisions, but one parent can make the decisions alone.

Physical custody determines where the child will reside. If sole physical custody is ordered, the child will live with one parent and visit the other parent.

A restraining order is a Court order issued to prevent the recurrence of acts of abuse by a batterer. Under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, abuse is defined as any of the following:

  • Intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury.
  • Sexual assault.
  • Placing a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another.
  • Engaging in any behavior that has been or could be enjoined such as molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, battering, harassing, telephoning, destroying personal property, contacting the other by mail or otherwise, disturbing the peace of the other party.

The act(s) of abuse/violence must be recent, and the batterer must be a spouse, ex-spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend, someone with whom the victim has or has had a dating relationship, an immediate family member (mother, father, in-laws, siblings, adult children), or a person with whom a party has a child/ren together.  See the California Court's website for more information on Domestic Violence Restraining Orders.

Probate Court Conservatorship FAQs

No. If you want to become conservator of the estate, you must petition for that. You can do it at the same time as you file your petition for conservatorship of the person or you can file a separate petition later.

Yes. An LPS conservatorship is only for people who are seriously mentally ill and need special care (usually placement in a locked facility and/or very powerful drugs to control behavior).

But, if a person suffers from dementia and needs special drugs to control the dementia, they may need a probate conservatorship, not an LPS conservatorship.

Yes. A limited conservatorship is a type of probate conservatorship for people who are developmentally disabled.  Developmentally disabled people can usually do many things a conservatee cannot do. So, the Court limits their conservators’ powers. Read more about limited conservatorships.

The person who wants to be a conservator can file. Others can file too, like a spouse, a relative, a state or local government agency or any other interested person or friend. Even the person who will be the conservatee can file, but that is extremely unusual.

Before you file, find out if someone else is already planning to file a petition.

The law has a system for choosing the conservator. It gives preference to the person at the top of the list, then moves down:

  • Spouse
  • Adult child
  • Parent
  • Sibling
  • Any other person approved by the Court.
  • Public Guardian

If the person closest to the top of the list does not want to be conservator, s/he can nominate someone else.

A private professional fiduciary may be appointed as conservator. Private professional fiduciaries charge fees. If the person who needs help can’t pay the fees and there is no suitable family friend or relative to serve, the Public Conservator/Guardian may be appointed.

The Court can sometimes appoint the Public Guardian as conservator. This usually happens when someone makes a referral. Referrals can be made by:

  • Adult Protective Services (APS),
  • A relative,
  • A neighbor,
  • A doctor,
  • A police officer,
  • The Court, or
  • Another interested person.

It depends.

If you are a conservator of the estate only, no.
If you are a conservator of the person, you can supervise the conservatee’s routine medical care unless s/he does not want you to.

If there is a medical emergency, you can supervise the conservatee’s care even if s/he objects. If the conservatee does not want medical treatment s/he needs, you can ask the Court for the power to give informed consent for the conservatee. This lets you authorize treatment even if the conservatee refuses.

If the conservatee is clearly unable to give informed consent, because of a stroke, dementia or some other problem that makes communication with the doctor impossible, the doctor will probably fill out a declaration for you to submit to Court. If the Court approves your request, you will be able to make most medical decisions without the Court’s permission.

But, if the conservatee has dementia and needs to be in a secure long-term care or residential care facility, or needs special drugs to treat the dementia, you must ask the Court for permission to have the conservatee confined, or to administer these drugs.

To ask the Court for these special medical powers, a physician or licensed psychologist must fill out the Capacity Declaration - Conservatorship form GC-335, which you must then file with the Court. This is a state Judicial Council form. If the conservatee’s needs change, you can always file a new petition to ask for the powers you need.

If you are the conservator of the estate, you control the conservatee's finances. But, the conservatee still has the power to make a Will.

The Court will let you make a Will if:

  • the conservatee is too sick to make a Will or estate plans, or
  • the conservatorship was established because someone was taking advantage of the conservatee or exerting undue influence on him/her.

The court investigator gives neutral information about your case to the judge. The investigator will call you and set up a visit with you and the proposed conservatee. Sometimes, s/he will meet with you and the proposed conservatee more than once.

The Court wants the investigator to:

  • Have a private interview with the proposed conservatee.
  • Explain how the conservatorship will change his/her life.
  • Explain what will happen at the hearing.
  • Explain about the proposed conservatee’s right to object to the conservatorship, to have an attorney, to have a different conservator and to have a trial by jury if s/he wants it.
  • If the proposed conservatee does not have the ability to understand or to give an opinion, the investigator will decide if a lawyer should be appointed to represent him/her
  • Review the petitioner’s Confidential Supplemental Information form and get more information if needed
  • Find out if the proposed conservatee is willing and able to come to the hearing. The investigator is allowed to look at the proposed conservatee’s confidential medical records.
  • See if the proposed conservatee is able to fill out an affidavit of voter registration.
  • Write a confidential report for the Court and send a copy to the conservator and the conservator’s attorney.
  • Make recommendations to the judge about your case.
  • For more information on the investigator’s duties, see Probate Code § 1826.

Yes. In a year, or in some cases sooner, the investigator will review your case again to make sure you are fulfilling your responsibilities as conservator and that the conservatee’s rights are being upheld. After the first year visit, the investigator will visit the conservatee every 2 years, or as often as the investigator feels necessary.

If the investigator thinks there may be a problem, s/he will write a report and ask the judge to appoint a lawyer for the conservatee. This may start the legal process to remove or replace a conservator.

The investigator will also visit the conservatee and make a report if:

  • The temporary conservator wants to move the proposed conservatee out of his/her residence.
  • The conservator petitions for exclusive authority to make medical decisions for the conservatee, especially if s/he is asking for special powers to take care of the needs of a demented conservatee.
  • The conservator wants to sell the conservatee’s home (or former home).

The court investigator will explain the implications of these situations to the conservatee. S/he will then write a report to the Court with his/her recommendations.

You must be sure that establishing a conservatorship is the only way to meet the person’s needs. If there is another way, the Court will not grant your petition.

You may not need a conservatorship if the person who needs help:

  • Can cooperate with a plan to meet his/her basic needs.
  • Has the capacity and willingness to sign a power of attorney naming someone to help with his/her finances or healthcare decisions.
  • Has only social security or welfare income every month and the Social Security Administration can appoint you Representative Payee. The Representative Payee is the person the beneficiary allows to receive Social Security checks in their name on behalf of the beneficiary.
  • Is married and the spouse can handle financial transactions. The property must be community property or in joint accounts.
  • If you are asking for a conservatorship of the person only (not the estate) you must have a physician or licensed psychologist fill out a Capacity Declaration - Conservatorship GC-335 form .
  • If you are asking for a conservatorship of the estate only (not the person), you must have a physician or licensed psychologist fill out a Capacity Declaration - Conservatorship GC-335 form .
  • If you are asking for conservatorship of the person AND the estate, you must have a physician or licensed psychologist fill out a Capacity Declaration - Conservatorship GC-335 form .

Probate Court Guardianship FAQs

Answers to the questions listed below, as well as other information can also be found in the Duties of Guardian form, one of the forms provided in the Guardianship Packet at the Civil Clerk’s Office. 

You may wish to seek legal advice before petitioning the court for guardianshipYou will need to petition the court for guardianship and attend a hearing on the matter.  For assistance with the completion of the forms you may contact the Self Help Assistance and Referral Program (SHARP), located on the second floor of the Courthouse. (Telephone 527-8649 for an appointment.)  An investigation by the Court Investigator will be conducted, which will include site visit(s), criminal background history, and may include contacts with schools, employers, relatives, friends and/or neighbors.  (Note: Past law enforcement issues will not necessarily prevent you from being eligible for appointed as guardian.)

You do not have to allow visitation unless there is a Court Order for visitation.  Without such order, visitation is at the discretion of the guardian only and should be allowed only when it is safe and in the best interests of the child, not the parents.  The parents’ rights are suspended for the duration of the guardianship.    If you wish to allow visitation but feel certain restrictions are necessary to protect the minor(s), you may petition the court for a visitation order.

Do not return the minor(s) to the parents without Court approval.  You or a parent may petition the Court to terminate the guardianship, or you may wish to request court approval to continue as guardian while allowing the minor(s) to reside with the parent(s) under certain conditions, through court approval.  Forms to terminate the guardianship are available at the Civil Clerk’s Office.

Yes, but you must inform the court within 30 days of any new street and mailing address.

You do not have the right to move the minor(s) out of the State of California without first obtaining this Court’s permission.  Out of State moves involve the noticing of appropriate parties, petitioning the Court for approval, and possible court investigation.

As guardian you have full legal and physical custody of the minor(s) and are responsible for all decisions relating to the minor.  The parents’ rights are suspended – not terminated- and they no longer have legal authority to make decisions for the child(ren) while a guardianship is in place.

  • You may wish to contact a local attorney familiar with probate guardianships;
  • Read through a copy of the Duties of Guardian included in the guardianship packet;
  • You may visit the Law Library and read the sections in the Probate Code pertaining to guardianships.
  • As mentioned above, Self-Help Assistance & Referral Program (SHARP) is a resource available free of charge.
  • Court clerks or deputy clerks are restricted from providing legal advice (Sections 24004 and 68082 of the Government Code).

Contact Information

Tehama County Superior
Civil & Family Law Division
1740 Walnut Street
Red Bluff, CA  96080

Monday - Friday:
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Phone: (530) 527-6441