What Is Family Court?

Our legal system has many different types of courts. Each court generally handles a different type of law. For example, criminal matters are generally all handled in criminal court. Civil court handles what people tend to think of when they think of a lawsuit – things like breach of contract or malpractice. There are many other courts as well, such as small claims, traffic, and probate.

The courts have different levels. In California we have superior court or trial court, the Courts of Appeal, and the Supreme Court. Superior court is where cases based in state law start. If there is an appeal from the superior court judgment, it then moves up to the Court of Appeal. If that judgment is appealed, it may go on to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also sometimes takes certain other types of cases, though it is less common. There are also federal courts, which handle cases that are brought under federal law instead of state law.

Family court is in the superior court or trial court level and uses civil law. Family court hears all matters based in the California Family Code, which is the part of California law that relates to family issues. This includes marriage, divorce, custody, support, property, domestic violence, and adoption. Some counties have courthouses that are entirely dedicated to family law, such as Santa Clara County. Other counties have courthouses that hear multiple types of cases, but have courtrooms or departments dedicated only to family law. San Mateo County and San Francisco County are like this.

In counties with a lower population, multiple types of cases may be combined in one courtroom. Some counties also separate out certain issues to be heard in a different department. This is common for domestic violence issues and child support. This means that one judge might hear a restraining order request, but if the parties are also divorcing, a different judge may hear the rest or one judge will make the child support order and a different judge will handle everything else, like property division.

Have questions about family court for your matter? Contact a San Francisco divorce attorney at Romanovska Law to learn more.


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