The Hennepin County District Court has two walk-in Self Help Centers
that offer services to people who are representing themselves in court (see Locations and Hours tab). Some services are also available at Conciliation Court
, Housing Court
, and the Domestic Abuse Service Center
. The public may also visit the Hennepin County Law Library
to find "do-it-yourself"
legal materials and get help with legal research. NOTE:
This website is not a substitute for legal advice. Talk with a lawyer
if you need advice.
The Self Help Centers have computers with access to online resources such as tools to fill out court forms, "how-to" videos, and tutorials that are available on a first-come first-served basis. Other services include:
- Court forms and written instructions (some fees may apply)
- Brief legal advice from volunteer attorneys
- One-on-one help to learn court procedures
- One-on-one review of your court forms
- Referrals to community resources and legal services
- Staff speak English, French, Somali, Spanish and American Sign Language
See What Court Staff Can & Cannot Do
Tips on Using the Self Help Centers
- Visit the Help Topics on the MN Courts website before you come to the courthouse. That website offers lots of information on common legal topics as well as online tools to fill out court forms, "how to" videos, and tutorials. You may be able to handle your legal matter or find answers to your questions without going to the courthouse.
- Please arrange for child care. The walk-in Self Help Centers do NOT have a play area or toys for children. You and other customers will need to be able to focus on legal issues without distractions.
- Expect to spend some time on your legal issues, both on your own as well as at the Self Help Center. You may have to return to the Self Help Center several times to complete the steps in your case.
- Bring your checkbook or cash. Walk-in services are free at the Self Help Center, but there may be a fee for certain things in your case. Example: criminal history printouts, subpoenas, forms, and filing.
Mandatory Motion Screening
If your case is filed in Hennepin County Family Court and you are not represented by an attorney, then your motion must be screened by the Family Justice Center Self Help Center before a hearing date will be set. (Except: Screening is not required for "ex pro" child support motions where the County Child Support Office is involved in the case.) The screening process does not mean that the judge or referee will automatically grant your motion. The motion will be decided based on the law, the evidence, and the legal arguments of all of the parties involved in the case.
How to Get a Motion Screened
Get these papers together:
- The forms for your motion (or response to a motion sent to you). These must be filled out to the best of your ability. If you have questions that keep you from finishing the forms, please make an appointment with the Family Court Self Help Center by calling (612) 596-8519.
- A copy of the latest court order(s) that you want to change or enforce through your motion.
- If you are responding to a motion served on you, bring all the papers you received from the other person.
Choose a screening option (by appointment or walk-in) described below. If your motion forms are for divorce, paternity, or third-party custody, then you MUST schedule an appointment for screening.
1. By Appointment
We strongly encourage people to schedule an appointment to have court forms screened by the Family Justice Center Self Help Center. Call (612) 596-8519 to schedule your 1-hour appointment (or 2-hour appointment for third-party custody cases as these are more complicated). The staff will meet with you and explain any issues with your forms and answer your questions. The staff cannot give you legal advice, but if you need legal advice, the staff can give you referrals. The staff will also explain the next steps in the motion process. IMPORTANT: Please allow extra time for traffic and parking near the courthouse to avoid being late for your appointment. We will only hold appointments for 10 minutes.
Appointments are encouraged, but staff will try to review completed court forms on a walk-in basis. Staff handle appointments first, so if you come to the Self Help Center without an appointment, you may have to wait 30 minutes or longer before staff can help you. Third-party custody papers cannot be screened on a walk-in basis; you must schedule an appointment.
Please make sure that your court forms are filled out BEFORE coming to the Self Help Center. If your forms are not completed, or you do not have all of the required information, you may have to return another day for an appointment. Also bring copies of any recent court orders issued in your case.
Q: How can the Family Justice Center Self Help Center help me?
The staff 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 from 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., 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.