Family law courtrooms are a place where emotions tend to run high. After all, issues related to family law are often difficult.

When you begin legal proceedings in a family law court, knowing what to expect along the way can help you to prepare to meet unique and difficult challenges.

Attending Family Law Court

Most legal issues related to marriage and family are handled through family law court. Reasons to attend family law court include: 

  • Divorce
  • Child custody and visitation
  • Adoption
  • Child support
  • Domestic violence
  • Protective orders

Family law issues can be sensitive and difficult to navigate. When you’re dealing with a case and navigating changes to the family structure, having a compassionate and understanding attorney on your side can make a big difference. 

Getting Started

After consulting with your attorney, you’ll be directed to the correct family law courthouse based on your residential location. 

At the courthouse, you’ll need to visit the appropriate offices and fill out the paperwork for your specific type of case. After you complete and submit your paperwork, a copy of the papers will have to be served to the other party. Once the other party is served, legal proceedings can be scheduled. 

Mediation and Court Hearings

Some family law cases will be straightforward. For example, a case involving domestic violence or a request for a protective order will be assigned a court date. Both parties will arrive at court to testify and await a judge’s decision in this type of case. 

Other family law cases can be more complicated. In cases that deal with child custody and divorce, both parties usually go through the mediation process before going into court. 

Mediation occurs when a neutral third party is hired to help both sides come to an agreement over a desired outcome for the case. In many states (including California), mediation is required by law for a child custody suit. Both parties must attend mediation to try to come to a custody agreement before a hearing can be held. 

Divorce is another family law subject in which mediation is encouraged before a hearing, but with divorce, mediation isn’t legally required unless child custody is involved. 

It can be stressful to try to compromise with the other party. Family law cases can be emotionally charged, and families can have a long and contentious history. Your attorney will attend mediation with you and advocate for what you believe is best for your family.

If mediation is not successful and the two parties cannot arrive at a compromise, the next step is a court hearing. The judge will listen to both sides and render a judgment on the case.

Heading into the courtroom might be stressful, but being informed and prepared for what the process entails can help you to feel more at ease. 

Family Court Locations in San Diego

Depending on your location, a family law case will require court attendance at one of San Diego County’s family law courts. There are four family law court locations in San Diego County, which include:

  • Downtown Family Law Courthouse: 1100 Union St, San Diego, CA 92101
  • East County Regional Center: 250 E Main St, El Cajon, CA 92020
  • North County Regional Center: 325 S Melrose Dr, Vista, CA 92081
  • South County Regional Center: 500 3rd Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91910

More information on San Diego County family law court is available on the county website’s Family Law Business Office page. Contact a San Diego family law attorney for help with your case.