For those who have never attended court proceedings before, the prospect of “going to court” might be a little intimidating. After all, Hollywood certainly does a fine job of making it seem like an intense ordeal. However, before your imagination can start conjuring scenes from Law and Order, take a deep breath, and relax. In real life, “going to court” isn’t nearly as exciting—or stressful—as a day in the life of Jack McCoy. Especially for family law.
Still, it’s natural to have a lot of questions about what to expect. In this article, we’ll attempt to address some of those concerns, and give you an overview of what to expect when attending family court at the Stockton Superior Courthouse.
San Joaquin Courthouse Address
If you are getting a divorce in San Joaquin County, your paperwork will be filed through the Superior Court of California in downtown Stockton. This is also the place where all of your family court hearings will occur. The Stockton California Superior Courthouse is the tallest building in San Joaquin county, and, with a huge, glass façade that looks a bit like an inverse pyramid, it’s a pretty hard building to miss. The address is:
180 E. Weber Ave.
Stockton, CA 95202
Trust us, you’ll know it when you see it.
San Joaquin Courthouse Parking and Transportation
Metered parking is available in front of the courthouse and along the surrounding streets. There are also several public parking garages in the immediate area, which charge hourly and only take cash. So, if you’re planning on using garage accommodations, make sure to plan accordingly.
If arriving via public transportation, the 23, 40, 44, and 51 bus lines all have routes that stop near the San Joaquin Superior Courthouse.
Inside the San Joaquin Superior Courthouse
As you step inside the main doors, you’ll be greeted with a giant map of the greater San Joaquin County area. A right will take you to a clerk area, where you can do simple tasks—such as pay a parking ticket—without having to go through a full weapons screening. If you take a left, you’ll find yourself in the building’s main lobby.
Unlike the dark, moody courthouses of Hollywood screen sets, the four-story glass atrium of the San Joaquin Superior Courthouse has an open, airy feel that the Law and Order set technicians wouldn’t know what to do with. Inside the atrium, you will find an information desk, with an attendant who can answer any questions you might have about your visit.
Choosing the Right Floor
All family court-related services are located on the fourth floor of the courthouse, so if that’s your destination, you do not need to check-in at the clerk area of the lobby. Instead, you may proceed directly up, via either the escalators—conveniently accessible right from the main lobby—or the elevators.
On the fourth floor, you will check-in, and be screened for weapons before being allowed into the courtroom. This is a safety measure meant to keep visitors and employees separate from the public, and to keep court proceedings as secure as possible. It may sound intense, but it’s not much different from an airport security line. For the screening, you will be asked for ID and will be required to walk through a metal detector. After that, you are free to locate your assigned courtroom.
Locating Your Courtroom
Calendar screens are available on each floor to help you find your assigned room and time. These monitors bear a striking resemblance to an airport’s arrival and departure board and are populated with lists of party names, departments, times, and case numbers for each particular room. Although your attorney will likely already have this schedule, it’s not uncommon for last-minute switches to occur, and these screens will help keep you apprised of both where the judge is at in your lineup, and of any changes that may have occurred.
When to Arrive
The San Joaquin Superior Courthouse website recommends that you arrive at least ten minutes early before your scheduled hearing.
Plan For a Wait
You should budget at least four hours for your hearing. This doesn’t necessarily mean it will take that long, but the court’s schedule is flexible, with sessions running from about 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Although you’ll have a scheduled time slot within the day, these sessions often run long, and the judge isn’t always ready for you at your assigned time, often requiring you to wait it out.
Inside the Courtroom
With few exceptions, real-life courtrooms are nothing like the dark wood, moody spaces that Hollywood portrays. Even San Joaquin’s courthouse—which is state of the art, and could have been designed any number of ways—didn’t come equipped with Victorian-era woodwork and brass fixings. Instead, your courtroom at San Joaquin family court will look a lot like a cozy college classroom, lined with comfortable seating (or benches, depending on your assigned room), and a judge’s podium similar to the kind lectern you’d find a college professor tucked behind (complete with microphone).
How events proceed once you’re in the courtroom will depend a lot on why you’re there in the first place. Your family law attorney will prepare you for the specifics, but you likely won’t be bombarded with red-faced “Objections!”, gavel pounding, and bursts of outrage from the other side. This is because, unless you’re called as a witness, the attorneys are the ones doing all the talking. And since lawyers have to maintain a working relationship with each other long after your case is closed, they generally have a pretty mellow attitude toward one another. Most are respectful across the aisle, and some are even friends. So, your family law experience at Stockton’s Superior Court will most likely be pretty ordinary.
San Joaquin Family Court Attorneys
As you can see, “going to court” isn’t nearly as passionate as it’s played out on your favorite legal drama. While divorce and family law proceedings can definitely be stressful, court isn’t usually too traumatic. In general, the most drama you’re likely to encounter at San Joaquin’s Superior Courthouse is the glares passed your way from your soon-to-be-ex.
If you are dealing with divorce, or another family-related matter, and need family law attorney to represent you in California Superior Court, we may be able to help. Call us at (209) 989-4425, or get in touch online to schedule your consultation today, and let our team of experienced family court attorneys help your courthouse experience go as smoothly as possible.