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Walk-in Services / Family Law Facilitator Program

NOTE: The Family Law Facilitator Program is NOT a substitute for working with a family law attorney.

Walk-in Services

If you have a case in Hennepin County Family Court and you are representing yourself, services are available to you at the Family Court Self Help Center. You may come to the Self-Help Center on a walk-in basis to get help with your family law problem during our public service hours.

Services include:

  • Forms and written instructions for a fee of $5.00-10.00 (fee may be waived for low-income persons.)
  • Videos explaining "How to Start a Divorce" (click to view) and "How to File a Motion" (click to view).
  • Brief legal advice from volunteer attorneys. See Ask a Lawyer.
  • One-on-one help understanding court procedures.
  • One-on-one review of your family court forms for completeness and consistency (subject to staff availability.)
  • Assistance with agreements between parties.
  • Referrals to community resources and legal services.

NOTE: To use these services, you generally must live in Hennepin County or have an existing court order from Family Court in Hennepin County.

Change or Enforce an Existing Court Order

If you need help to change or enforce an existing court order, you must bring a copy of the court order with you when you visit the Self-Help Center. If you do not have a copy of the Order, you will be asked to purchase a copy of the Order for $8.00 at the court Records Center located in the Family Justice Center. For example, if you want to ask the court to change something about custody or parenting time, bring your copies of all court orders for custody and parenting time. This could be a Divorce Decree, a Paternity Order, or an order issued following a Motion hearing. If you are responding to a motion, you must bring a copy of the court order and a copy of the motion that was served on you.

Court Forms

BEFORE you can get Court Forms Packets at the Self-Help Center, you will watch a 30-minute video about how to complete the forms and correctly give the papers ("serve the forms") to the other party. Allow yourself enough time to watch the video if you come to the Self-Help Center. You may watch the video at the Self-Help Center any time during SHC oiffice hours, or you can watch the videos online by clicking "How to Start a Divorce" or "How to File a Motion." After watching the video, you can purchase your Form Packets and take them home to complete them. Or, you can download and print court forms from the court's websites by clicking the links below:

MN Court Forms MN Court Forms (statewide)  4th District Court Forms 4th District Court Forms (Hennepin)

Family Law Facilitators

Q:  How can a Facilitator help me?

The facilitator will sit with you and explain any problems with your completed forms and answer your questions, but cannot give you legal advice. The next steps in the process will be explained. If you are having trouble with the forms, do not understand the written instructions you received, or if the forms do not seem to fit your situation, a facilitator can help you work through your papers.

Q: Do I need an appointment or can I get help on a walk-in basis?

A lot of people use the Self-Help Center, so you are strongly encouraged to schedule an appointment to have your forms reviewed rather than try to do it on a walk-in basis. Appointments are usually available with a facilitator from 8:30a - 2:30p, Monday - Friday

If your case involves third party custody, then you MUST schedule an appointment.  These cases are complicated and generally cannot be reviewed on a walk-in basis. If your case involves other family law disputes, court staff may be available to help you on a walk-in basis, but you may have to wait quite a while to speak with someone.

NOTE: Appointments can often last more than an hour, so please plan ahead for parking, child care, or if you need to take time off of work. Allow extra time for traffic and parking so you are not late for your appointment. We only hold appointments for 10 minutes.

Call (612)596-8519 to schedule an appointment
at the Family Court Self-Help Center.

TIPS for Working with the Facilitator

  • BEFORE your appointment, write in all of the information asked for on the forms. The time spent during the appointment is for reviewing your forms after you have filled in all of the information that you can.
  • Please make other arrangements for child care. The Self Help Center does not have a play area or toys for children. You will need to be able to focus on your legal issues without any distractions.
  • Be prepared to spend the necessary time (1-3 hours) at the Self-Help Center. You may spend several hours at the Center and return several times during your case.
  • Do not expect to take care of your business in one day.
  • Bring your checkbook or cash. The facilitator service is free, but the Form Packets cost $5.00 - $10.00. You may also need to purchase copies of one or more of your existing court orders, at a cost of $5.00 per order. If your income is at or below the Federal Poverty level, the fee for the forms is waived.

Facilitators are neutral and, if asked, they must assist both you and the other party. Facilitators cannot tell you what choices to make or give you legal advice. Please be aware that what you tell a facilitator is NOT confidential.

Feedback from users of the Family Law Facilitator Program has been very positive. In a survey of 100 customers, 97% said they would recommend the service to a friend. Nevertheless, if you choose to use the Family Law Facilitator Program, recognize that you are handling a complex and important matter without the benefit of legal representation from an attorney.

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