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Three
California
Courts that
Hear Family
Matter Cases
In California, three courts handle family
matters: family, probate, and juvenile.
The following briefly outlines the role
of each court in family matters.
Family court accepts cases involving
child support, divorce,
paternity/parentage, and specific child
custody and visitation matters. Family
courts presume that the parents can
parent their children, and it’s in the
child’s best interests to have frequent
contact with both.
Probate court hears cases involving
probate guardianship cases or
petitions for permanent or temporary
guardianship. Relatives or friends who
seek legal custody of a child bring
these cases to court. If granted, such
petitions pause but do not end
parental rights.
Juvenile courts have two areas of focus:
delinquency and dependency. The latter handles
Child Protective Services (CPS) cases, such as
child abuse and neglect. Juvenile delinquency
courts focus on minors accused of breaking the
law or committing crimes. Some minors qualify
for deal status, and both courts have jurisdiction
over the cases. However, usually, one or the other
court handles their cases.

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Three California Courts that Hear Family Matter Cases

  • 2. In California, three courts handle family matters: family, probate, and juvenile. The following briefly outlines the role of each court in family matters.
  • 3. Family court accepts cases involving child support, divorce, paternity/parentage, and specific child custody and visitation matters. Family courts presume that the parents can parent their children, and it’s in the child’s best interests to have frequent contact with both.
  • 4. Probate court hears cases involving probate guardianship cases or petitions for permanent or temporary guardianship. Relatives or friends who seek legal custody of a child bring these cases to court. If granted, such petitions pause but do not end parental rights.
  • 5. Juvenile courts have two areas of focus: delinquency and dependency. The latter handles Child Protective Services (CPS) cases, such as child abuse and neglect. Juvenile delinquency courts focus on minors accused of breaking the law or committing crimes. Some minors qualify for deal status, and both courts have jurisdiction over the cases. However, usually, one or the other court handles their cases.