Family Law & Support
The San Joaquin Superior Court accepts filings relating to Dissolution of Marriage, Child custody, and Visitation, Paternity, Family Support, Domestic Violence Restraining Orders, Elder Abuse Restraining Orders, and adoptions. Below you will find information that covers the most common information that is sought regarding family law cases.
- Case Search
- Family Law and Support Division
- Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse Restraining Orders
- Representing Yourself
- Findings and Order After Hearing Procedure
- Court Notes: Information from Dept 4A for Attorneys Practicing Family Law
- Family Law Records
- Women’s Center- Youth & Family Services
- Frequently Asked Questions
Family Law and Support Division
Department 4A, 4B, and 5A Calendars
Court begins promptly at 8:15AM in all courtrooms. The public is expected to dress appropriately when attending court. Shorts and tank-tops are not allowed in the courtrooms.
To attend a Law and Motion matter or an Ex Parte hearing remotely as permitted under Local Rule 7-116 or if granted approval under Local Rule 7-115, please follow the instructions below. The courtroom clerk may make announcements and the judge or courtroom will call the calendar. Please mute your phones when you are not speaking, and remember to unmute your phone when you are speaking.
Call into (209) 992-5590 a few minutes prior to your hearing time. Then, follow the prompts and use the Bridge # and Pin # for the Department where your case is to be heard:
Dept. 4A: Bridge number 6950, Pin number 8348
Dept. 4B: Bridge number 6944, Pin number 1475
Dept. 5A: Bridge number 6942, Pin number 4178
If your matter is not allowed to be heard remotely or permission has not been granted, the matter may not be heard. It is the party’s or attorney’s sole responsibility to make that they are in compliance with the Local Rules to ensure no delay.
Click here for the current Statewide Fee Schedule for Family Law related cases. The filing clerk will notifiy you of the filing fee at the time of filing. You may download a Fee Waiver from the California Courts website and submit with your filing.
Clerks cannot assist you in completing your forms. Please see the Pro Per Clinic for assistance in completing forms or inquiring which forms to complete for your particular situation. Check the general information page for clerk filing window hours.
Mediation / Child Custody Recommending Counselors
Mediation is provided by the court. Mediation is free of charge to families who need assistance reaching an agreement regarding child custody and visitation. All matters scheduled for child custody or visitation, for the first time, are required to attend the mandatory mediation orientation. In order to prevent the spread of illnesses, litigants are not ordered to personally attend Mediation Orientation training, but are instructed to watch the video before their court appearance. The following is the link to the video:
If you have multiple reasons for appearing in the court such as custody/visitation and support, the matter for custody/visitation will be heard in Dept 4A then may be transferred to Department 5A or DCSS in room 503 on the 5th Floor for your support issues. Please be sure to check with the courtroom clerk before leaving.
Family Support Division
Family Support filings can be made on the 4th Floor at 180 E Weber Ave, Stockton, CA 95202. Please see the department’s office hours above.
If you will be appearing in Dept 5A for any support issues, the court may ask you to present any or all of the following: proof of employment, proof of income, and proof of expenses. Failure to have this information with you could delay or postpone your appearance for another day.
Helpful information regarding Family Law
- The court only provides interpreters in limited cases. Please check with the filing clerk to see if you qualify. If you do not qualify for a court-provided interpreter you will be responsible for providing your own interpreter. If you do not bring an interpreter to your hearing your hearing may be postponed to another date to allow you additional time to obtain an interpreter.
- Do not bring children with you to your court date unless ordered to by the court. The matters discussed in the courtroom are not appropriate for children and there is a lot of tension in the lobby that children need not witness. If you must bring children to the courthouse when filing papers, they must be supervised at all times.
- Proper attire must be worn in all courtrooms. If you wear shorts or tank tops you may not be allowed in the courtroom, your case may be rescheduled or the court may rule in your absence.
- Be on time for all court appearances and scheduled appointments. If you are late, your case could be postponed or the judge could rule against you.
- If you feel you need accommodation, please download the accommodations form. Once completed, please submit it to the clerk at the family law window for processing.
Department of Child Support Services
The Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) is not a branch of the Court.
The DCSS office is available to provide you with assistance in collecting support on an existing court order, to help establish an order for support, paternity and medical insurance issues. Please contact them directly to obtain further information.
Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse Restraining Orders
Filing a Restraining Order
If you are a domestic violence or elder abuse victim, you can file a request in Superior Court. The court provides packets to file restraining orders. The packets can be obtained at any court branch during regular business hours, or online at www.sjcourts.org/form-packets/, or by visiting California Courts.
Documents can be typed or hand-printed, using blue or black ink, and must be legible. Do not use lined paper or colored paper for declarations with your domestic violence restraining order or with elder abuse restraining orders. Declarations and exhibits are limited to 10 pages each unless you have prior permission from the court to submit a longer declaration.
If the restraining order is completed correctly and submitted to the clerk’s office no later than 10AM, the order can be picked up at 3:30PM the same day.
You are not required to disclose your address and phone number. Should you choose to not disclose your address “Confidential” must be in place of your address and phone number.
For information about a shelter or other community services available in San Joaquin County or proper procedures for a victim to follow after a sexual assault, you may contact the Women’s Center at (209) 941-2611, the Battered Women’s Crisis Line, (209) 465-4878, or the Sexual Assault Line (209) 464-4997. For counseling services and assistance in typing up restraining orders please call the San Joaquin County Family Justice Center (209) 468-2500 or the Women’s Center.
Other services in the community that may be of assistance to you:
- For legal assistance contact: Lawyer Referral Service (209) 948-4620
- When child abuse has occurred contact: Child Protective Services (209) 468-1333
- San Joaquin County Family Justice Center (209) 468-2500
- You should know that even if the police have arrested your attacker, release from jail may happen at any time. It is your responsibility to request notification of an inmate’s release.
- You can ask the District Attorney to file a criminal complaint against your attacker. You also have the right to file a civil suit for losses suffered as a result of the abuse. These losses may include doctor or hospital bills, wages, and any other related expenses incurred by you or any agency that sheltered you.
- Sexual assault by a person who is known to the victim, including sexual assault by a person who is the spouse of the victim, is a crime.
Information regarding Elder Abuse Restraining Orders
Assistance for Elder Abuse restraining orders can be obtained at the Department of Aging. Please call the following number to schedule an appointment to speak to a representative of the Department of Aging at (209) 468-1104 or (800) 510-2020.
It is wiser to be represented by an attorney in any court proceeding. Family Law proceedings have long-term consequences of which you may not be aware. The initial expense saved may turn out to be very expensive in the future. The judges and clerks are prohibited by law from giving you legal advice. If you do decide to represent yourself, here are some suggestions:
You may want to get preliminary legal advice from a lawyer to help you understand the legal issues and make the right decisions about your case.
A Lawyer Referral Service is available through the San Joaquin County Bar Association.
Information on the Pro-Per Clinic.
Be prepared to tell the judge or commissioner at the outset what you want to accomplish. Be prepared to present your side to the judge or commissioner making the best use of your time. Talk about the most important things first.
You should speak directly to the judge or commissioner when court is in session and your case is called. Do not direct your comments to or argue with the other party. The judge or commissioner cannot speak to you about your case outside of court.
Finding and Order After Hearing Procedure
A Findings and Order After Hearing will be provided to you only when the Judge orders it be prepared by court staff. The turn-around time will depend on the current workload. If you completed a return envelope during your court hearing the order will be mailed to you. In all other cases, it is up to the prevailing party to prepare and submit the order to the court for processing.
Instructions for Preparing a Findings and Order After Hearing
Findings and Order After Hearing (FOAH) forms are available in your forms packet. If you do not have one, they are available online from the California Courts, or at the clerk’s office on the 4th floor at 180 East Weber Avenue, Stockton, CA 95202
Your forms can be printed neatly in blue or black ink. The Pro Per Clinic can also prepare your Findings and Order After Hearing and Judgments.
Your Findings and Order After Hearing should indicate all the rulings made by the judicial officer during court. If you do not remember what was said, you can get a copy of the minute order from the clerk’s office. Please wait at least two days after the hearing date before purchasing the minute order. The minute order can be purchased at the rate of $.50 per page. You can contact Records Management at (209) 992-5697 to ensure the minute order is ready before coming to the courthouse.
Return the completed forms to the Clerk’s Office as soon as possible for processing. Processing time varies based on current workload. Please do not call the office to inquire as to the status of your document. If you wish to have your order returned to you via mail, please submit a self-addressed stamped envelope with proper postage. All orders without return postage paid envelopes may be picked up within 30 days at the clerk’s office during regular business hours. All items not retrieved within 30 days of processing will be shredded. You can obtain copies for the Records Management Department at the rate of $.50 per page.
If the other party was in court, you must mail a copy of the Findings and Order After Hearing to them. If the other party was not in court, you should have that person personally served with a copy of the order. File the Proof of Service with the Clerk’s Office after the Findings and Order After Hearing has been served.
Court Notes: Information from Dept 5A for litigants
For litigants appearing in Department 5A, you must read the Advisement of Rights Pursuant to Family Code §4251(b) & (c) prior to your court appearance.
Court Notes: Information from Dept 4A for Attorneys Practicing Family Law
A message to the public from our Family Law Presiding Judge Robin Appel:
Local Rule of Court 7-103 requires that party’s meet and confer prior to mediation. The rule is very specific that if a complete settlement is not possible, all issues should at least be discussed, including vacation and holiday schedules. With that in mind, all counsel are expected to resolve as many issues as possible before requesting mediation services. In most cases the court will now be inquiring as to what issues have not been resolved and what the other party’s position is regarding the areas in conflict. Counsel not prepared to respond to those questions have not satisfactorily met and conferred. Meet and confer should take place prior to court and not at the time the case is called.
It is extremely helpful to have pleadings which set forth the precise parenting plan, including holidays and vacations that your client would like. This information is invaluable in resolving cases prior to court and is essential for the mediators and the commissioner to have at the time of the hearing. Bare declarations which essentially say “I want custody” without more scheduling information are useless. The court will be looking to the extent of the proposals in the pleadings in making orders for attorney’s fees.
Family Law Records
Family Law Records may be ordered through the Records Management division. Please visit the Records Management for further information on requesting copies of records via the web, mail, and in person.
Frequently Asked Questions
What forms do I need to modify my order?
For a list of forms you need to modify your order CLICK HERE.
There are three Family Law departments in Superior Court. Where will my case be heard?
They are 4A, 4B and 5A. There is a public calendar posted daily for public use at the information desk. You can look up your name (all case listings are in alphabetical order) and the courtroom number will be next to your name.
How much does mediation cost?
The mediation process is free. Only the Judicial Officer may appoint a mediator to your case.
If I have calendaring questions, who do I call?
You may call the Family Law Dept at (209) 992-5690 and any clerk can try to assist you with your question. Please keep in mind that our clerical staff cannot provide you legal advice.
Where do I leave a Request for Order for the judge or commissioner to sign?
Requests for Orders must be filed at the clerk’s office on the 4th Floor or Suite 413 of the Stockton Courthouse at 180 E Weber, Stockton CA 95202
How do matters involving custody and visitation disputes get on calendar?
The clerk will assign a date and time to your Request for Order upon filing documents if completed correctly. Please note that any Request for Order with accompanying Temporary Orders must first be reviewed by a judicial officer or commissioner before a clerk can assign a hearing date.
How do I calendar a matter that doesn’t involve custody or visitation issues?
Please call the Family Law Dept for more information on calendaring matters that do not involve custody or visitation. The phone number is (209) 992-5690. Clerk office phone hours are 8:00AM to 4:00PM daily.
How do I have both custody and financial issues heard on the same day?
You may file your Request for Order for both custody and financial issues. You will be assigned to an 8:15AM calendar for mediation in courtroom 4A. The Court will hear financial issues after the mediation on the same day. Please make sure to remind the court that you also have a hearing for financial issues before leaving after your custody/visitation is resolved.
How do I get a copy of a transcript?
Transcripts are obtained directly from the reporter. Transcripts are not free. Contact the reporter from your hearing to get an estimate of the cost of the transcript and arrange for its creation. The Court Reporters may be reached at (209) 992-5442.
Why won’t the courtroom clerk help me?
Superior Court personnel are not permitted, by state law, to provide legal advice to litigants. The phone number for the Lawyer Referral Service of The San Joaquin County Bar Association is (209) 948-4620. You may also go to the Self-Help Center located at 180 E Weber Ave, Stockton, CA 95202. Please refer to the Self-Help Center page for further information on services offered