Los Angeles Family Courts

The Superior Court for Los Angeles County has many divisions. One of these divisions is called the Family Law Division. The Family Law Division consists of judges experienced in family law who hear cases in that one field. 

Los Angeles County’s goal in providing a Family Law Division is to get better and more consistent outcomes in family cases. Read on for an overview of Los Angeles family courts, the types of cases they hear, and the services they provide to the public.

Jurisdiction of the Family Law Division

In California, Superior Courts handle all trial-level cases, including:

  • Civil cases, including family law and probate
  • Criminal cases
  • Small claims cases

Superior Courts can also decide appeals of small claims, traffic tickets, and civil cases of less than $25,000.

Los Angeles County, like many other California counties, has set up a Family Law Division within the Superior Court. 

The cases heard by the Family Law Division in Los Angeles County include:

  • Divorce, legal separation, and annulment
  • Paternity
  • Domestic violence restraining orders
  • Child support and spousal support
  • Child custody and visitation
  • Family law mediation and arbitration

As noted by the Los Angeles Court, some cases that you might expect the Family Law Division to handle fall within another division’s jurisdiction. 

Some examples of cases that the Family Law Division does not handle include:

  • Juvenile criminal cases
  • Guardianship
  • Adoption
  • Emancipation
  • Child abuse and neglect

You would file or respond to these cases in the Juvenile Division rather than the Family Law Division.

Location of the Family Law Division Courtrooms

Los Angeles County has several courthouses that house a judge in the Family Law Division. The courthouses that include family court include:

  • Chatsworth Courthouse, 9425 Penfield Ave., Chatsworth, CA 91311
  • Compton Courthouse, 200 West Compton Blvd., Compton, CA 90220
  • Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse, 275 Magnolia, Long Beach, CA 90802
  • Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse, 42011 4th Street West, Lancaster, CA 93534
  • Pasadena Courthouse, 300 East Walnut St., Pasadena, CA 91101
  • Pomona Courthouse South, 400 Civic Center Plaza, Pomona, CA 91766
  • Santa Monica Courthouse, 1725 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401
  • Stanley Mosk Courthouse, 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
  • Torrance Courthouse, 825 Maple Ave., Torrance, CA 90503
  • Van Nuys Courthouse East, 6230 Sylmar Ave., Van Nuys, CA 91401
  • Whittier Courthouse, 7339 South Painter Ave., Whittier, CA 90602

The court clerk relies on you to file your case in the correct venue. But if you make a mistake and file in the wrong courthouse, you can file a request to transfer the case to a different court. You can even request a transfer to a different county if you provide reasons why Los Angeles County was the incorrect county for filing.

Procedures for Family Law Division Cases

You always have the authority to represent yourself in a family law case. If you do not hire a family lawyer, courts will expect you to follow the laws and court rules that apply to your case. If you fail to do so, a court can dismiss your case or enter a default against you.

Electronic Filing in the Family Law Division

As of April 2022, lawyers filing documents in the Family Law Division must submit all documentation electronically.

Electronic filing cuts down on paperwork for the court. It also reduces the odds that the court will misplace filings. When filed electronically, documents become available almost instantly online.

Online Hearings in the Family Law Division

One unintended benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic was the acceptance of online hearings by judges, clerks, lawyers, and parties. Online hearings save clients money because they do not need to pay incurred expenses, like mileage or time spent driving to the courthouse.

Online hearings benefit judges and clerks by allowing them to fit more hearings into a court session. This helps them deal with the backlog created by inadequate resources and pandemic shutdowns.

Lawyers also prefer online hearings. In most cases, they can make their point just as clearly in a streaming video as they can in person. But by arguing via live stream rather than driving from courthouse to courthouse, lawyers can fit more hearings into each day.

The Family Law Division has continued its use of online hearings despite the reopening of courthouses. To use live stream hearings, the parties just need to provide notice to the court of their intent to handle their hearings remotely. The clerk will then schedule all hearings for live streams unless the judge orders the parties to appear in person.

Appearing in Person in the Family Law Division

As of April 4, 2022, Los Angeles County courthouses no longer require masks. The court recommends masks for all courthouse visitors, but the court will not deny entry to maskless visitors.

When you visit the court in person, you must follow the court’s dress code. During the pandemic, the court relaxed the dress code from formal business attire to business casual attire. This means men do not need to wear a suit and tie. It also means women do not need to wear a pantsuit or dress.

Instead, you must wear clothing appropriate for white-collar business. The only exception to this rule comes during trials or formal hearings. In those settings, parties must wear formal business attire.

The court also noted that these dress codes apply to remote appearances. So if you have a hearing via live stream, you should avoid casual wear like T-shirts, tank tops, caps, and bandanas.

Your Guide to the Family Law Division

Your best guide to the Los Angeles County Family Law Division is an experienced family lawyer. A lawyer knows the laws, rules, and customs of the Family Law Division and can provide advice and counsel about your appearances there.

To discuss how Los Angeles family law courts will handle your case, contact Berenji & Associates to schedule a case evaluation.