How Does The Louisiana Family Court Work? | CourtRecords.org
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How Does the Louisiana Family Court Work?

There is only one Family Court in Louisiana. The court is located in the 19th judicial district courthouse in downtown Baton Rouge, and the First Circuit Court of Appeal. The Family Court of East Baton Rouge Parish has jurisdiction over specific matters such as divorces, community property division, spousal support, child visitation, child custody, child support, and domestic violence. By law, the court comprises as many divisions as the number of judges authorized for the Family Court in the Parish of East Baton Rouge.

Hence, the court has four judges and four divisions assigned as A, B, C, D. Judges presiding over one division may also preside over another division of the Family Court when circumstances require and by the judges’ agreement. Such situations are not uncommon when judges concur to exchange judicial duties, assist each other with judicial responsibilities, or transfer a case from one division to another.

Besides the presiding judge in a division of the Family Court, there are also duty judges charged with specific responsibilities:

  • Availability at certain times of each day, usually between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., to sign all orders.
  • Handling of duty matters, other than routine ones, which require the review of court records, conferences with the duty judge, etc.

Applications to the Family Court for civil warrants must strictly comply with the provisions of the Louisiana Revised Statutes § 9:343 and include copies of all custody judgments currently in effect to the applications. The application may be submitted to the presiding judge in the division where the matter has been assigned, or the duty judge if the presiding judge is unavailable.

Upon filing any new proceeding at the Family Court, the Clerk of Court immediately allots it to a division of the court by using an electronic device that helps to ensure equal assignment among the divisions. This method of case assignment is subject to the direct supervision of the court. The Family Court may reassign a case from one division to another for a good cause. This reassignment is done by a signed order of the presiding judge. A case may also be reassigned by an order rendered ex proprio motu (on its own) by the court sitting en banc.

Pre-trial procedures slightly vary per Division of the Louisiana Family Court. In Division A, self-represented litigants or attorneys must obtain a trial date from the judicial assistant. While obtaining the trial date, both parties to the case must complete a case management schedule. Pre-trial conferences are scheduled approximately one month before the trial date. Orders for pre-trial and pre-trial memorandums are not required unless requested by the judge. Then, a second trial setting must be chosen unless the judge indicates otherwise.

In Division B, to obtain a trial date, attorneys or self-represented litigants must complete a case management schedule. The schedule assigns a pre-trial readiness conference date and second setting trial date. The case will be assigned to a first setting trial date at the pre-trial readiness conference. In Division C, after completing a short status conference with the judge, attorneys or self-represented litigants must complete a case management schedule setting forth their contested headlines, issues, and dates to appear in court. A pre-trial readiness conference will be fixed approximately three weeks before the trial. Subsequently, the judge notifies both parties if pre-trial memorandums are necessary. Both sides must comply with the deadlines in the case management schedule and attend pre-trial readiness conferences as required, or the trial date may be passed.

In division, self-represented litigants and attorneys must file and submit pre-trial orders to the staff attorney. The division requires that all issues be heard at the trial on merits. Pre-trial orders are not required to be joint orders and may be submitted individually. Upon reviewing the orders, the division’s judge will set the matter for trial if considered appropriate. Otherwise, a conference will be set to move the case toward trial. Afterward, the division completes a case management schedule, which is sent to both parties. Where possible, the case will be assigned a second setting or a third setting, if requested. Where pre-trial briefs are also required, the judge will notify both parties. A pre-trial conference is generally scheduled shortly before the trial date.

Note that the judge in each division may depart from this process if the situation requires.

Hearings at the Family Court may either be closed or open. Under the Louisiana Civil Code article 135, the Family Court may order the close of hearing in a case involving child custody. The code also permits the Family Court to close a hearing in its discretion if it finds good cause to do so. Family Court matters may be resolved through the parties’ stipulation by either submitting a written stipulation or by reading the stipulation into the record. The individuals or their counsels may prepare stipulations.

The stipulation states the scope of their agreements and contains their signatures signifying consent to the agreement. Upon preparation and signing, the written stipulation is submitted to the court for approval and signature or read into a record in open court. Afterward, the court renders a judgment adopting the stipulation after verifying that both parties understand and agree to the stipulation.

Written judgments of the Family Court are prepared and filed after stipulations have been entered into by the parties, after issuing written reasons for judgment, after the oral rendition of a judgment, or as the court may direct. Self-represented litigants or their attorneys must prepare and file the written judgment before the Family Court’s judgment review date. Where the filed judgment opposes the law and rules of the court or judgment is not filed on or before the review date, the counsel or self-represented litigants must appear in open court on the assigned date. If the submission is made as at when due and the written judgment complies with court rules, both parties or their counsels do not need to appear in court on the review date.

Transcripts of the Family Court proceedings may be obtained by completing and submitting the Transcript Request Form provided by the court. Completed forms may be submitted by mail, fax, email, or in-person to the court administrator. There is an electronic version that may be completed online. Transcripts cost $6.50 per page, exclusive of an administrative charge of $5. Transcripts for appeals require an original and two copies. There is an extra charge of $1.20 per page for copies of appeals. For transcripts and other records of the court, individuals may visit the court’s location at:

Parish of East Baton Rouge

300 North Boulevard, Fourth Floor

Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70801

Phone: (225) 389–4680

Fax (Divisions A & C): (225) 389–4952

Fax (Divisions B & D): (225) 389–8368

DIVISION A

Suite 4111, Courtroom 4D

Phone: (225) 389–4676

DIVISION B

Suite 4101, Courtroom 4A

Phone: (225) 389–7657

DIVISION C

Suite 4131, Courtroom 4B

Phone: (225) 389–4673

DIVISION D

Suite 4301, Courtroom 4C

Phone: (225) 389–4678

Judges of the Louisiana Family Court are elected to six-year terms. Requirements to serve on the court include:

A minimum of eight years’ experience of practicing law in the state, having obtained a law degree

Residing in the parish for a minimum of one year

Being under the age of 70

The Family Court operates a Self-Help Resource Center (SHRC) within the courthouse, which provides various services to self-represented litigants such as access to case information, answers to case information, answers to general questions about the legal system, and assistance with court forms. These services are available from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Note that SHRC does not provide legal advice or legal representation in court. Only legal information is provided, and that is done in an open room with others present. Hence, persons are advised not to have an expectation of confidentiality concerning any matters discussed. Additionally, SHRC users must sign a disclosure statement declaring the terms of use of the SHRC.

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