What are Louisiana Family Court Records?
Louisiana family court records pertain to official reports and documents created during domestic contentions and litigation processes in the various specialized family courts and family divisions of the district courts in the state. These records provide details of summons, dockets, sworn affidavit, orders, notices, citations, waivers, motions, pleadings, and other information ancillary to family law proceedings. As per Louisiana state laws, access to family records not otherwise denied by statute or court rule may be allowed for a good cause. However, the eligibility criteria for obtaining these records may vary depending on the local court rules.
What Cases are Heard by Louisiana Family Courts?
Family courts in the state of Louisiana are trial courts of special jurisdiction over cases pertaining to family matters such as partition, domestic violence, restraining orders, paternity, adoption, visitation, support, disavowal, partitions, as well as other marital and juvenile cases. These courts also hear cases as regards questions of mental health, abortion, misdemeanor prosecution of adults, property, and other related cases within the court’s jurisdiction. The structure of family courts in the state of Louisiana varies among parishes, each with different arrangements and case hearing patterns. The parish of East Baton Rouge has a distinct family court that legislates over cases as a single unit. Also, there are separate juvenile courts in Orleans, Jefferson, Caddo, and East Baton Rouge parishes. Pursuant to the state laws, the family division of the district courts oversees family-related cases in parishes without special court arrangements.
The appellate-level courts in the state are the Supreme Court and the circuit courts of appeal. The Supreme Court is the highest-ranking court which hears appeals from the family courts and other lower courts in the state. On the other hand, the five circuit courts of appeal serve as the intermediate appellate courts, each having both original and appellate jurisdiction over family cases from lower courts.
The principal trial courts in the state are the district courts, and the aforementioned family and juvenile courts. There are 42 district courts each legislating over at least one parish. The city courts, mayor’s courts, justice of the peace courts, and the parish courts constitute the courts of limited jurisdiction.
What is Included in Louisiana Family Court Records?
No two cases are the same. Louisiana family court cases constitute no exception as the information they contain varies and primarily depends on the features and proceedings of the case itself. Essentially, most family case records share uniform outlines including:
- Name and personal details of the petitioner(s) and respondent(s)
- Attorney and judge information
- Case information including case number, status, and type
- Complaints and cross complaints
- Hearings and events of the case
- orders of notices and appearance
- Financial summaries
- Memorandum of decision
Family Court Records can include marriage records and divorce records. These records contain personal information of those involved and their maintenance is critical should anyone involved wish to make changes. Because of this both marriage and divorce records can be considered more difficult to locate and obtain than other public records, and may not be available through government sources or third party public record websites.
Are Family Court Records Public in Louisiana?
Typically, there exists a narrow access to family court records in the state of Louisiana due to strict limitations mandated by the state’s public records law in order to maintain the sensitivity and confidentiality of these records. The court clerks are accountable for confidential information and hence restricted from disclosing statutorily sealed information to unauthorized individuals. Such information may include:
- The personal information of an abuse victim and minor/juvenile
- Financial account numbers, state identification numbers and social security numbers of parties involved in the case.
- Child services records as well as custody and adoption details
- The educational, medical/psychological records of a minor
- Property inventory of divorced/divorcing persons.
Consistent with the state laws, permission to view confidential family court records may be granted to authorized members of the public (licensed by statute or court rule). Persons allowed by statute to obtain confidential court records include the parties to the case, victims of crime committed by such child (as in the case of juvenile delinquencies), attorneys of the record, parents/guardians of the subject go the case, court employees, and members of law enforcement agencies. Also, to obtain a court rule, willing individuals may petition the court (if applicable). Furthermore, non-confidential case information is typically available for in-person inspection in the appropriate courthouse.
How Do I Get Family Court Records in Louisiana?
Family court records are specifically managed in the courthouse where the case was handled—family courts, juvenile courts, and the family divisions of district courts. The due diligence of the clerk is the maintain, secure, and release non-confidential and confidential records in accordance with the state’s constitution. To retrieve these records, eligible requesters may utilize any of the various channels provided by the court. Furthermore, it is significant to note that some court clerks may discretionarily operate following local court guidelines. Records can be obtained:
- By mail (plus e-mail, fax for some parishes)
How to Obtain Family Court Records In Person
To access family court records in person, requesters are required to locate and visit the court where the case was filed with the necessary requirements such as case number, names of parties involved, docket number, copy of a government-issued ID, and a court order (if the sought record is confidential). Transcripts of court proceedings may be obtained from the court reporter whose administrative duty is to provide these documents upon request by authorized parties. However, motions and other non-confidential information may be available for in-person viewing in the courthouse without restrictions.
How to obtain Louisiana Family Court Records by Mail
Most family court records in the state may be accessed via U.S mail sent to the appropriate court clerk. Some clerks maintain printable request forms on their respective websites that can be printed and sent by mail, email, or fax depending on the methods offered by the clerk. Requesters are required to send a written request to clerks who do not have these forms. The request must include significant details of the record of interest such as the case number, the names of the parties involved, the docket number, and other relevant applicable information. In most cases, the requesting party is required to include a valid photo ID and the appropriate fee to cover the cost of the record and a self-stamped return envelope. Note that depending on the sensitivity of the record of interest, requesters may require authorization.
How to Obtain Louisiana Family Court Records Online
Firstly, the online case search may only provide general information as regards to non-confidential records. Also, some courts do not maintain e-access portals for remote use and hence willing individuals must use the online terminal located at the courthouse to view the records. These records are primarily managed in the family court of East Baton Rouge, the juvenile courts, and the family divisions of district courts, some providing online resources for viewing non-confidential case information. As per the state laws, remotely available information does not include records that are deemed confidential by statute or court rule. Such records may be available for in-person requests by authorized individuals. In addition, the clerks association manages an online portal that provides details of the various court locations, clerks' information, and contact details.
Publicly available records are also accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.
Both government websites and organizations may offer divorce and marriage records. Similarly, third party public record websites can also provide these types of records. But because third party organizations are not operated or sponsored by the government, record availability may vary. Further, marriage and divorce records are considered highly private and are often sealed, meaning availability of these types of records cannot be guaranteed.
Specialized Family Court Records
Along with generating and maintaining records of court-proceedings and trial transcripts in family-case hearings, the Family Division of Louisiana District courts, the juvenile courts, and the family court of East Baton Rouge manage various judgment files and records. These documents provide official reports of divorces, child custody, adoptions as well as actions in respect of the execution of wills, estate management, and other property claims. These records are managed in various institutions and may be released to eligible persons upon request. However, the eligibility criteria for each record may vary and depends on the sensitivity of the record of interest.
How Do I Access Adoption Records?
Consistent with the state rule, all adoption records are confidential records, hence rendering disclosure to unauthorized individuals unlawful. However, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services may have information regarding foster children and are available to such children who are now adults. Additionally, the state of Louisiana also operates a voluntary adoption registry that may provide information about birth parents and biological siblings of an adoptee. However, these registries are only accessible by courts, adoption agencies, and adult adoptees.
Members of the public who wish to obtain adoption records may direct their query to the court which handled the adoption in the following steps:
- Fill the petition for disclosure form issued at the courthouse and attach the required documents (ensure compliance by reviewing the Louisiana Children's Code Articles)
- File the petition along with a fee of $505 payable to the court
- If accepted, a curator ad hoc is appointed for a fee of $500 to review the petition and ancillary documents for a further report to the court
- If appropriate, the court sets a hearing to determine which part of the record may be disclosed.
How Do I Access Divorce Court Records in Louisiana?
Certified copies of divorce decrees may be accessed from the specific custodian of the court the divorce was granted. While the state of Louisiana does not operate a central database from which divorce records may be accessed, these records are maintained in each court’s website. To obtain divorce records, requesting parties may visit, mail, email, or fax the court of record depending on the discretion of the clerk. Also, before a request is duly processed, interested parties are required to provide case-specific information to narrow and facilitate the search. The required information may include— the full names of the involved parties, the case file number, the date the case was filed, the case number, and/or the dissolution date. Generally, these records may be viewed for free at the online terminal in the courthouse but in cases where copying and/or certification are also required, a fee is charged in accordance with the local court guidelines. The fee is not absolute and depends on the number of copies required.
How Do I Access Child Custody Court Records in Louisiana?
While some child custody records are generally considered public records, specific aspects of these records are redacted. Redacted information may include the child’s age, residence, details of guardian ad litem, financial and health care records as well as other identifying information of minors and domestic violence victims. Thus, persons seeking access to these records may be required to meet some eligibility requirements of these records to access the full information on a child custody record. To access child custody records in Louisiana, the requester is required to contact the family court or the family division of the district courts of the parish. The requesting party will also be required to provide information regarding the case and pay any applicable fees to gain record access. For especially sensitive information, requests must be validated by a court order/petition to unseal.