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What do I need to know before I attend a court hearing in my foster child’s case?

There are two courthouses in Los Angeles County where judges preside over juvenile dependency cases:  the Alfred J. McCourtney Juvenile Justice Center located at 1040 W. Avenue J, Lancaster, CA 93534, and the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court (pictured on the homepage), located at 201 Centre Plaza Drive, Monterey Park, CA 91754-2158.

Courthouse telephone numbers:

McCourtney Courthouse–(661) 945-6330

Edelman Courthouse–(323) 526-6330

The vast majority of Los Angeles County children’s cases are handled at the Edelman Courthouse. (Your child’s social worker will inform you where the child’s case is handled, and will inform you how to contact the child’s attorney).

Directions, Parking, Arrival, and Security

For driving and parking directions click here.

Bring $6 cash to park.

Court hearings are generally held from 8:30 AM to 12 noon, and 1:30 to 4:30 PM. During the lunch break the court is locked.

You should arrive at the Edelman Courthouse parking structure no later than 8:15 AM for a hearing unless otherwise instructed by a social worker or attorney. If the lot fills up you will be diverted to an auxiliary lot and have to take a shuttle to the court.

You will go through a security checkpoint and be screened by machine.  Lines are often very long. Leave at home or lock in your vehicle the following: weapons and self-defensive items (such as pepper spray), cameras (unless you have obtained written permission in advance to take photographs), sharp objects (including knitting needles, corkscrews). You will be asked to empty your pockets and remove coats, sweaters and sometimes belts.   Retrieve all items after screening (be careful not to forget your cellphone!).

Amenities, Information, and locating your child’s courtroom

There is free wifi throughout the building.

There is a cafeteria in the basement.

Each floor has restrooms, television sets tuned to children’s shows, and art activities for kids during certain hours.

When you enter the building, you will see a large directory on the lobby wall, and sometimes there is a person sitting at the information desk.  Locate your child’s courtroom (or judge’s name) and proceed to the elevators.  The courtrooms (called “departments”) all start with the number “4” and no, that does not mean fourth floor.

Court hours, Court room check in, Clerk’s Office

Court starts at 8:30 AM and it takes a half hour to get through security in the lobby so go early.

When you get the the right floor and right courtroom you will see a huge waiting area filed with parents and kids. Sit somewhere right near the door to your child’s courtroom.

Children’s cases are strictly confidential. Do not enter the courtroom without permission of a bailiff or attorney.

A bailiff (an armed, uniformed county sheriff) is assigned to each courtroom. You will see the bailiff walk in and out of the locked courtroom door throughout the morning. Check in by stating the child’s name and your name. Then take a seat and wait for the bailiff to call out the last name of the child. This means the judge is ready to hear the child’s case. You must walk into court very promptly when you hear the case called, or you might miss the hearing. Hearings are typically just a few minutes long.

The clerk’s office is located on the second floor at Edelman. It does not close for lunch. There, you can obtain information and request court forms (such as forms for your use in filing written motions, reporting information to the judge, filing an appeal and requesting access to an adopted child’s files).