RULES OF THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT

FAMILY AND JUVENILE COURT

 


 

INDEX

 

Rule                                                                                 Page

 

1.         Court Jurisdiction and Divisions                                                                1                       

 

2.         Duty Judge                                                                                                    1

 

3.         Trial Date Conflicts and Preferences                                                         2

 

4.         Allotment of Cases                                                                                       2

 

5.         Rules of Order                                                                                              3

 

6.         Children in the Courthouse                                                                         3

 

7.         Parenting Class                                                                                             3

 

8.         Pleadings                                                                                                       3                       

 

9.         Briefs and Memorandum                                                                            3

 

10.       Ex Parte Custody Orders                                                                            4

 

11.       Assignment of Cases for Trial                                                                     4

 

12.       Continuances                                                                                                 5

 

13.       Pretrial Conferences                                                                                    5

 


14.       Rules                                                                                                              6

 

15.       Proceedings in Forma Pauperis                                                                  6

 

16.       Withdrawal of Counsel                                                                                7

 

 

 

 

 

17.       Duties of Curator Ad Hoc                                                                            7

 

18.       Stipulations and Submission of Judgments                                               8                       

 

19.       Judgments of Default                                                                                   8

 

20.       Divorces Pursuant to La. Civ. C. Art. 102                                                 9

 

21.       Records                                                                                                          9

 

22.       Exchange of Information                                                                             9

 

23.       Hearing Officer - General Rules                                                                9

 

23.1.    Hearing Officer – Specific Rules                                                                12

 

            Child Custody and Visitation                                                                      12

            Non-Support                                                                                                  12

            Community Property Partition                                                                  14

 

24.       Mediation                                                                                                      17

 

25.       Mental Health Assistance                                                                            19

 

26.       Supervised Visitation                                                                                   20

 

27.       Application of Rules                                                                                     20

 

 

Forms                                                                                                                        21

                                               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RULE 1.  COURT JURISDICTION AND DIVISIONS   

 

Section A.       There shall be Family and Juvenile Dockets in the Fourteenth Judicial District and that Docket shall be allotted as follows:

 

Effective January 1, 2013, pursuant to La. R.S. 13:587, all new family cases will be assigned to Divisions “A”, “B”, “C”, “D”, “E”, “F”, “G”, “H” and “I”.  All new juvenile matters will be assigned to Divisions “C” and “I” and all juvenile matters presently assigned to Division “D” will be reassigned to Divisions “C” and “I”.  Division “D” will retain all family matters presently assigned to Division “D”.

 

Effective January 1, 2015, pursuant to La. R.S. 13:587, Division “A” will be assigned to Family and Juvenile Court.  All new family cases will be assigned to Divisions “A”, “C”, and “I.” All new juvenile matters will be assigned to Divisions “A” and “I” and all juvenile matters presently assigned to Division “C” will be assigned to Division “A”.  All domestic matters presently assigned to Divisions “B”, “D”, “E”, “F”, “G” and “H” will be assigned to Division “A”. 

 

Section B.  Matters heard on the Family and Juvenile Court Dockets shall be as follows:

 

(1)       Juvenile matters governed by the Louisiana Children’s Code;

 

(2)       All proceedings for the adoption of minors and for the relinquishment or termination of parental rights;

 

(3)       Actions of separation, divorce, and annulment together with all related incidental matters as defined by La. C.C. art. 105 and the community property partitions associated with the dissolution of said marriages.

 

(4)       All child-related issues such as the establishment or disavowal of the paternity of children, filiation, custody, visitation and support, or any other such matters as may be designated by the District Judges; and

 

(5)       All Protective Orders filed in accordance with La. R.S. 46:2131, et seq., and R.S. 46:2151 et seq.

 

Section C.  These rules shall apply to family and juvenile proceedings in all divisions of the 14th

Judicial District Court.

 

RULE 2.   DUTY JUDGE

 

            Section A.       A judge of one of the divisions of the Family and Juvenile Court, shall be assigned as duty judge each week.  The duty judge shall conduct Motion Hour at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 

 

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RULE 3.         TRIAL DATE CONFLICTS AND PREFERENCES 

 

            Section A.       When cases are assigned for trial on the same date in different divisions involving the same trial attorney or attorneys, the following order of preference shall prevail:

           

(1)       Criminal jury trials;

(2)       Civil jury trials;

(3)       Custody, access and/or protective order rules and trials;

(4)       Criminal bench trials;

(5)       Civil bench trials;

(6)       Juvenile trials;

(7)       Support and ancillary rules; and

(8)       Criminal motions (exception being motions with statutory time limitations).

           

Section B.       When cases are assigned for trial on the same date in different Family and Juvenile Court divisions involving the same attorney or attorneys, the following order of preference shall prevail:

 

(1)  Juvenile continued custody hearings and trials (Delinquency, Family in Need of Services, Child in Need of Care);

(2)  Protective orders;

(3)  Trials of contested matters (custody, access, support, relocation and community property partitions);

(4)  Rules; and

(5)  Hearing Officer Conferences.

 

Once a trial has commenced, it shall take preference over all other proceedings.

 

            Section C.       The attorney who has a potential conflict shall immediately notify opposing counsel and the Court.

 

RULE 4.  ALLOTMENT OF CASES 

 

Section A.       Family and Juvenile Court cases shall be allotted on random basis and in a manner that prevents parties filing proceedings from anticipating assignments or otherwise forum shopping for a particular division of the Court.

 

Section B.       All cases involving the same family units shall be allotted to the same division

of the Court.  Allotment shall be made utilizing Form A.

 

Section C.       Once a case has been allotted, all exceptions, motions, rules and trials on the merits shall be heard by the Judge of the division to which the case is allotted.  Any uncontested matter, preliminary default or confirmation of default may be taken up before any division of Family and Juvenile Court

 

 

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Section D.       If all Judges in Family and Juvenile Court are recused or are unable to preside in the matter, the case shall be assigned randomly among the other Judges of the 14th Judicial District Court.

 

Section E.       If two cases are consolidated, the case having the highest docket number shall be transferred to the division to which the case having the lower docket number has been allotted.

 

Section F.       The allotment of cases referred to herein shall be made by the Deputy Clerk of Court assigned to Family and Juvenile Court or any Deputy Clerk duly designated.

 

            Section G.      After a case has been allotted, the Clerk of Court shall at once cause the division to which the case has been allotted to be noted on the outside of the jacket of the record and in the docket book.

 

RULE 5.         RULES OF ORDER 

 

            Sketching, photographing and/or recording by any means are prohibited in the courthouse.  No cameras of any kind shall be permitted in the courtroom or other location of court proceedings without the permission of the Judge.

 

RULE 6.         CHILDREN IN THE COURTHOUSE

 

Clients and witnesses shall be advised not to bring children to the courthouse.    When a child is to be a witness in a proceeding, the child shall not be brought to the courthouse until the Court calls for their testimony.  If the child is enrolled in school, they are to remain in school until called by the Court.  Children shall not be allowed in the courtroom without special permission of the Judge.  The Clerk of Court shall notify the parties of this rule in accordance with Form B.

 

RULE 7.         PARENTING CLASS

 

            In cases involving the custody of minor children, the parties may be required to attend a parenting class.  Any party who refuses to comply with the order of the Court to attend the parenting class shall be subject to sanctions for contempt of court. 

 

RULE 8.         PLEADINGS

 

            All initial filings in new suits filed in Family Court shall be accompanied by the Clerk’s Form, Form C.

 

RULE 9.      BRIEFS AND MEMORANDUM 

 

            Section A.  Any brief, memorandum and/or correspondence with the Court shall be furnished contemporaneously to the opposing counsel or party, if unrepresented, with a certificate of compliance attached thereto.

 

           

 

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            Section B.  All exceptions and motions for new trial shall be accompanied by a brief written statement of the facts and reasons in support of the exception or motion and a memorandum of authorities on which the party relies.  Copies shall be furnished contemporaneously to the opposing counsel or party if unrepresented.  Each party opposing the exception or motion shall file with the Court, no later than five (5) judicial days before the hearing, a brief statement of the facts and reasons advanced in opposition to the exception or motion and a memorandum of authorities on which the party relies, a copy of which shall likewise be provided contemporaneously to the opposing counsel or party if unrepresented.

           

            Section C.  Any exception or motion which is filed without a memorandum of authorities attached shall not be assigned a hearing date or in the discretion of the Court may be dismissed.  Attorneys appearing without having timely filed the required memorandum of authorities may not be permitted to argue.

 

RULE 10.       EX PARTE CUSTODY ORDERS

 

            Section A. All requests for ex parte custody shall strictly comply with La. R.S. 46:2135, La. C. Civ. Proc. Art. 3945, or La. Ch. C. Art. 1564, and shall be accompanied by Forms D and E. All requests for ex parte custody orders shall be filed with the Clerk of Court prior to presenting it to the Court.  Ex parte requests shall not be presented to the Court without advance notice. 

 

            Section B.  All requests for ex parte custody shall be presented in Family Court Motion Hour when possible.  In addition to Forms D and E, there must be at least one (1) non-party affidavit attesting to the facts or documents in support of the ex parte request. 

 

            Section C. If an ex parte change of custody order is sought when a prior legal custody order exists, this information shall be noted in the ex parte request and the suit record must accompany the request.  If an ex parte request was previously made, this information shall be noted in the ex parte request, as well as the Judge to whom it was presented and any orders or decisions made by the Judge. 

           

RULE11.        ASSIGNMENT OF CASES FOR TRIAL 

 

            Section A.       If a matter is contested and the Clerk has received an adequate deposit or bond for costs, a case may be placed on the trial docket at the request of an attorney of record or a party, if not represented, by a written motion presented to the assigned Judge or a written request directed to the Clerk.  After such motion or request is made, if the Clerk determines that the deposit or bond is inadequate, he shall so notify the attorneys of record in the case, and the case shall not be placed on the trial docket until an adequate deposit or bond is furnished or unless so ordered by the Court.  If an adequate deposit or bond is not furnished within sixty (60) days after notice is mailed by the Clerk, the case shall be dismissed without prejudice, upon contradictory motion filed by any party thereto, if failure to comply with the notice continues to the date of trial of the motion.

                                                                       

            Section B.       All motions or requests to have a case placed on the trial docket must be accompanied by a statement or certificate of the moving party that they have checked the record and that all answers have been filed and the case is in the proper posture for placing on the trial docket.

 

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            Section C.       Trials requiring testimony of less than 15 minute duration may be set for trial instanter by joint motion in open court, without the necessity of placing the cases on the trial docket.

 

            Section D.       Upon receiving a request for the fixing of a case for trial, the Clerk shall immediately forward to all counsel of record and parties, if unrepresented, a notice of the trial date of the suit, together with the appropriate pretrial order. 

 

RULE 12.       CONTINUANCES 

 

            A continuance may be granted in any case if there is good ground therefor. All requests for continuance shall be made in writing utilizing Form F.  A motion for a continuance shall not be granted unless the motion is uncontested or unless, on the face of the motion, the case should be peremptorily continued under the provisions of La. C. Civ. P. 1602 and Rule 3(A) and (B) of these court rules.     

 

RULE 13.       PRETRIAL CONFERENCES 

 

Section A.       Upon request of either party, or at its own direction, the Court may order the attorneys for the parties to appear before it for a pretrial conference to consider the following:

 

  (1)     The simplification of the issues;

  (2)     The necessity or desirability of amendments to the pleadings;

  (3)     The possibility of obtaining admissions of fact and agreements on the admissibility of documents which will avoid unnecessary proof;

  (4)     The limitation of the number of witnesses, lay and expert; and

  (5)     Such other matters as may aid in the disposition of the action.

 

Section B.       During such conferences, the parties are expected to disclose their respective positions and to stipulate as to all matters not at issue.  The Court shall cause such stipulations to be placed on the record to conserve time at trial. The parties at pretrial conferences shall likewise be required to state objections or lack thereof to any exhibit, document, photograph or other such evidence which another party to the suit proposes to offer in evidence.

 

            Section C.       At pretrial conferences, the Court, in its discretion, may seek to advise and assist the parties to a voluntary resolution of their differences.

 

Section D.        The Court should not be expected, at any stage of the proceedings, to force any compromise upon reluctant counsel or parties, but it is the intent of this rule to expedite final and just disposition of all cases. Consequently, counsel shall be expected to appear at pretrial conferences knowing what authority, if any, their respective client will grant with respect to resolving the differences between the parties.  If there is any reasonable prospect of compromise, counsel are expected to exert reasonable efforts to that end prior to and during pretrial conferences, and not wait until it is too late for the Court to otherwise utilize the time set aside for the trial of the case.

 

 

 

 

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RULE 14.       RULES

 

            Section A.  All rules to show cause shall be set for a Hearing Officer Conference before the Hearing Officer utilizing the Hearing Officer Conference Order, Form G, with the following exceptions:

 

(1)            Protective Orders;

(2)            Ex Parte requests for custody;

(3)            Rules to terminate the community;

(4)            Rules for divorce;

(5)            Exceptions;

(6)            Discovery motions;

(7)            Rules to show cause why a Sworn Detailed Descriptive List should not be

      deemed a Judicial Determination of Community Assets and Liabilities;

(8)            Mental Health Assistance;

(9)            Substance Abuse Testing; and

(10)         Any other rules and/or motions deemed appropriate by the Court.

 

All Hearing Officer Conferences shall take place in the manner set forth in Rule23 and 23.1.

 

            Section B.  All rules to show cause shall also be assigned a rule date before the Judge, in addition to a Hearing Officer Conference.   If the matter is contested on the rule date, all parties shall be present and a pretrial conference shall be held.  The Court, in its discretion, may conduct a hearing on any pending issues that could be heard within one hour.  If no agreement is reached, a Pretrial and Trial Order, Form H, shall be issued and the matter will be fixed for trial on the Court’s trial docket.  The Court may issue any additional orders as it deems necessary.  The Court, in its discretion, may fix the matter to another rule date if it deems appropriate. 

 

            Section C.  All rules seeking arrearages of spousal support and/or child support or contempt rules for failure to pay spousal support and/or child support shall be accompanied by an Arrearage Worksheet, Form P.

 

RULE 15.       PROCEEDINGS IN FORMA PAUPERIS 

 

 Any party litigant who wishes to exercise the privilege of proceeding in forma pauperis, in addition to the affidavits required by La.C.Civ. P. art. 5183, shall furnish the Court with full and complete information concerning their assets and liabilities in the form set forth in Form I.  If the Court is not satisfied with the information furnished, it shall order the litigant to show cause why the litigant should be permitted to proceed in forma pauperis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RULE 16.       WITHDRAWAL OF COUNSEL 

 

            Section A.        If a case is not pending a hearing or trial, any attorney may, by ex parte order, be permitted to withdraw his representation of a party.  The ex parte order shall be presented to the Judge of the division in which the case is pending.  An attorney who has been permitted by ex parte order to withdraw shall give notice of same to all other counsel and all unrepresented parties. 

 

Section B.        If a case is pending a hearing or trial, an attorney may withdraw his representation of a party only if the motion to withdraw is filed with an affidavit and supporting documentation that the withdrawing counsel gave written notification of their withdrawal and the next hearing date to their client.   All opposing counsel, unrepresented parties, and the party whom the attorney represents shall be served with a copy of the motion.  The Court may not grant the motion if doing so would necessitate the delaying or reassignment of the case for trial, unless consented to by opposing counsel, and if permitted by the Court. 

 

            Section C.       All motions to withdraw shall contain the last known mailing address and phone number of the attorney’s client.

 

Section D.       Nothing in this rule shall be construed to prevent the substitution of counsel for a litigant at any time prior to commencement of hearing or trial, provided that the motion to substitute is signed by both the withdrawing and enrolling attorney and shall not retard the scheduled hearing or trial.

 

RULE 17.       DUTIES OF CURATOR AD HOC

 

            Section A.       In any case in which a curator ad hoc is appointed to represent an absentee defendant, the petition shall contain information as to the residence address or whereabouts of the defendant.  The curator ad hoc shall promptly make diligent effort to locate and contact the defendant either by personal contact or by certified or registered mail with return receipt requested.  When the case is called for trial, the curator ad hoc shall be prepared to present competent evidence to show that a diligent effort was made to locate the defendant, to give him the information and render the services required by this rule.

 

            Section B.       If the absentee defendant can be located or contacted, the curator ad hoc shall inform him, either by personal contact or by certified or registered mail with return receipt requested, of the nature of the proceedings and the date of the trial or hearing, and he shall render such other services as may be necessary for the protection of the rights of the absentee.  At the trial or hearing, unless otherwise ordered by the Court, the curator ad hoc shall file in evidence copies of the letters written to or received from the defendant, and the return receipts of registered letters addressed to the defendant.

 

            Section C.       Those attorneys appearing on the curator ad hoc list shall be required to accept not less than one appointment per calendar year in a Child in Need of Care and/or Termination of Parental Rights proceeding.

 

 

 

 

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RULE 18.       STIPULATIONS AND SUBMISSION OF JUDGMENTS 

 

            Section A.       Stipulations shall be signed by all parties and counsel of record and filed in the record.  If such stipulations are reached during a pretrial conference while court is in session, the stipulations shall be dictated into the record.  Upon request, the Court reporter shall transcribe the stipulation, the original of which shall be filed in the record.

 

            Section B.       Formal judgments shall be prepared and presented to the opposing counsel of record or the opposing party, if unrepresented, by the party ordered by the Court to prepare the judgment within 15 days of rendition of judgment.  The opposing party must sign the proposed judgment or object in writing within 15 days of the mailing or delivery of the proposed judgment.  If there is an objection, both parties shall submit the proposed judgment with the transcript to the Court immediately.   In the event that the judgment is not presented within 15 days after rendition, the other party may prepare and present a  formal judgment to the Court, after having submitted a copy to the opposing counsel or the opposing party, if unrepresented, and furnishing such notice of presentation to the Court.  If the judgment is submitted without the opposing counsel’s signature or if the judgment is submitted in a matter where the opposing party is unrepresented, the judgment shall be presented to the Court with the transcript.

 

            Section C.       Any written stipulation regarding child support shall include a statement that the

child support award is in accordance with the Louisiana Child Support Guidelines.  If the stipulation is not in accordance with the guidelines, then the reasons for deviations shall be set forth in the stipulation.

 

            Section D.     Any written stipulation or judgment involving joint custody shall include a Joint Custody Plan pursuant to La. R.S. 9:335.  See Form J for a suggested Joint Custody Plan.

           

            Section E.  Any written stipulation or judgment involving child support shall include an order requiring that the parents provide the State Case Registry with any change in the information required by La. R.S. 9:313 (B)(1) occurring after the rendering of the judgment.  Any judgment of child support shall also be accompanied by the State Case Registry Data Form.  See Appendix K.

 

RULE 19.       JUDGMENTS BY DEFAULT

 

            Section A.   To confirm a preliminary default under La. C. C. Art. 103(1) and La. C. Civ. Proc. art 1702 (E), petitioner shall submit to the Court in chambers or open court the following:

 

(1)            The record;

(2)            103 Checklist, Form M;

(2)       An affidavit executed by the petitioner within 30 days of submittal of the proposed judgment specifically attesting to and testifying as to the truth of all of the factual allegations contained in the petition and facts sufficient to obtain a divorce; and 

            (3)       The original and one copy of the proposed judgment.

 

 

 

 

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RULE 20.       DIVORCES PURSUANT TO LA. C. C. ART. 102

 

            Section A.  All rules to show cause why a divorce should not be granted pursuant to La. Civ. C. art. 102 shall be assigned for the next feasible motion hour.

 

            Section B.  Mover’s attorney shall offer and introduce for filing the entire record and the appropriate 102 Checklist, Form L, in open court on the hearing date.  Attorneys appointed to represent absentee defendants shall testify in open court at that time.

 

RULE 21.       RECORDS 

 

Section A.       Only attorneys and court reporters of this Judicial District shall be permitted to withdraw records, exhibits and documents and they shall give their receipts therefor.  They shall not retain such records or documents longer than 72 hours, except with special permission of the Court.  All records shall be returned to the Clerk or the Court 72 hours prior to any scheduled hearing or trial.

 

            Section B.       Attorneys from other Judicial Districts in this state shall be permitted to withdraw records, documents and exhibits upon presentation of an order of the Court authorizing them to do so, which order shall state the length of time that the record, document or exhibit may be retained. 

 

            Section C.       All records or documents pertaining to a cause pending shall be presented to the Court by the Clerk in the courtroom on the day such case is to be tried.

 

RULE 22.       EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION

 

            Section A.  In all suits in which a Hearing Officer Conference Order has been issued, each

party shall prepare and exchange with the opposing counsel or party, the appropriate mandatory Family

Court Affidavit, Form N, with required attachments, at least three (3) days prior to the Hearing Officer

Conference, exclusive of legal holidays.  The original Family Court Affidavit shall be submitted to the

Hearing Officer.

           

            Section B.  The parties are to personally sign the Family Court Affidavit, under oath, certifying

that the information contained therein and attached documents are complete, true and correct to the

best of their knowledge, information and belief. The parties are to immediately update the affidavit and

documents if any of the information changes prior to the hearing and shall immediately correct any

errors discovered after completion. 

 

RULE 23.       HEARING OFFICER - GENERAL RULES

 

          Section A.  Pursuant to La. R.S. 46:236.5, applicable articles of the Civil Code, the Code of Civil Procedure, the Children’s Code, and the Revised Statutes, and in furtherance of Title IV of the Louisiana District Court Rules, the Court hereby implements an expedited process for the establishment, modification and enforcement of support obligations and all other family proceedings

 

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as defined by La. R.S. 46:236.5 by authorizing and directing the Family and Juvenile Court Judges of the 14th Judicial District Court to nominate one or more Hearing Officers to hear these matters, with the approval of a majority of Judges of the 14th Judicial District Court, and to hire and employ any and all such other personnel deemed necessary to implement this procedure, all of whom shall serve at the pleasure of the Court.

 

            Section B.  The Hearing Officers shall have authority to perform and shall perform any and all duties assigned to them by the Judges of the Family and Juvenile Court which are authorized by law as it presently exists, or as it may be, from time to time, supplemented or amended in the future.  The Hearing Officers shall be prohibited from appearing or practicing before the 14th Judicial District Court. The entire Court by majority vote shall fix the salaries of the Hearing Officers.

 

            Section C.       Upon the filing of pleadings, the parties shall be required to attend a Hearing

Officer Conference with the Hearing Officer. A Hearing Officer Conference Order, Form G, as set

forth in shall accompany all pleadings filed. Each party shall provide documentation to the

Hearing Officer and the other party in accordance with the Hearing Officer Conference Order.

 

            Section D. All parties shall be present at the Hearing Officer Conference.  Failure to

appear after being properly notified may result in the dismissal of the case, temporary orders being issued based on evidence presented, limitations on the presentation of evidence or witnesses, sanctions provide by law, or any other appropriate relief.  No party shall be allowed to participate by telephone unless extraordinary circumstances exist and the request is approved in advance by the Hearing Officer.  The person making the request shall notify the opposing party in writing and inform the Hearing Officer if the request is opposed. 

 

            Section E.  Parties may testify to the extent deemed appropriate by the Hearing Officer.  The

parties or their respective counsel shall have an opportunity to provide a verbal statement of their

positions to the Hearing Officer with regard to the issues before the Court.

 

            Section F. If the parties are able to resolve any of the issues during the Hearing Officer Conference, the Hearing Officer shall prepare a written stipulation regarding the resolved issues for the review and execution by the parties and their attorney, if represented, together with an appropriate judgment or order incorporating and implementing the agreement of the parties.  The stipulation shall contain an acknowledgement that no objection or appeal may be filed

 

            Section G. If the parties are not able to resolve all of the issues during the Hearing Officer Conference, the Hearing Officer shall issue a written Hearing Officer Conference Report with recommendations on all unresolved issues in compliance with La. R.S. 46:236.5(C)(5),at or within a reasonable time following the Hearing Officer Conference. 

 

            Section H.  A party may file an objection to the Hearing Officer’s recommendations with the Clerk of Court within ten (10) days from the date of transmittal of the recommendation utilizing Form O.  A copy shall be submitted contemporaneously with the Hearing Officer and the assigned Judge. If a

 

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written objection to the Hearing Officer’s recommendations is timely filed, it shall not be withdrawn or dismissed unless a consent judgment as to all objected matters is filed into the record before the rule date.

 

               Section I.  If a written objection is filed by any party, the recommendations objected to are set for a de novo hearing before the assigned Judge.  The Hearing Officer’s recommendations shall become an interim order pending the final disposition by the Court, except recommendations regarding:

1.               Contempt;

2.               Change in legal custody;

3.               Relocation;

4.               Paternity determination; and

5.               Partition of community property.

 

The interim order shall be without prejudice and shall not affect the retroactivity of the claims of either party.

 

            Section J.  If a written objection to the Hearing Officer’s recommendations is not timely filed, the Hearing Officer’s recommendations shall become a final judgment of the Court and shall be presented to the Court for signature.  A certification of no objection to the Hearing Officer’s recommendations must be noted on the final order.

 

            Section K.      If a party does not provide the required Family Court Affidavit, documents and/or financial information as ordered by the Court necessary for the Hearing Officer to make recommendations, then the Hearing Officer may recommend any of the following:

 

1.     That the party failing to produce the Family Court Affidavit, documents and/or financial information be found in contempt of court with sanctions to be imposed;

2.     That the matter be dismissed without prejudice;

3.     That good cause exists to modify the retroactivity of the award; and/or

4.     That temporary orders be issued based upon the limited information provided.   The temporary orders shall be without prejudice and shall not affect the retroactivity of the claims of either party. 

 

Section L.  An individual not served personally with the notice of hearing and who failed to make an appearance must be served with the Hearing Officer Conference Report as per La. C. Civ. Proc. Art. 1913.    Otherwise, the Hearing Officer Conference Report may be transmitted to the parties in open court, in chambers, or by mail.  If transmitted by mail, the notice shall be mailed to the location where service was made if unrepresented by counsel and the date of transmittal shall be the date of mailing, as reflected on the notice filed in the record.

 

Section M. If all issues are settled prior to a scheduled Hearing Officer Conference, the attorneys or parties, if unrepresented, shall notify the Hearing Officer and the assigned Judge in writing to remove the matter from the Hearing Officer and Judge’s calendar.

                       

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            Section N.  A request to continue a Hearing Officer Conference may be granted for good grounds. All requests for continuance shall be in writing utilizing Form F.  A motion for a continuance shall not be granted unless the motion is uncontested or unless, on the face of the motion, the case should be peremptorily continued under the provisions of La. C. Civ. P. 1602 and Rule 3(A) and (B) of these court rules. 

 

RULE 23.1     HEARING OFFICER - SPECIFIC RULES

 

            Child Custody and Visitation

 

(1)            The Hearing Officers shall perform Hearing Officer Conferences on proceedings

      concerning child custody and visitation, contempt of court, attorney’s fees and

                                    such other matters as may be authorized by law or as directed by the Judges. 

 

                        (2)       All pleadings filed regarding child custody or visitation shall be accompanied by

                                    the Family Law Affidavit, Form N.  Any documents relied upon by the Hearing

                              Officer in making a recommendation, which is appealed, shall be filed into the record unless waived by the parties.

 

                        (3)       At the Hearing Officer conference, the Hearing Officer shall determine the

                                    issues of the case, hear evidence, attempt resolution of all issues, and make

                                    recommendations on all unresolved issues. Pending a final determination

                                    by the Court on any custody and/or visitation issue, the child(ren)’s previously

                              established living situation should not be radically altered or changed without prior Court approval.

 

(4)       In the event the Hearing Officer determines that the matter is appropriate for

            mediation, the Hearing Officer shall issue a Mediation Order, Form Q, in

      accordance with Rule 24.  If the parties are unable to resolve all issues at mediation, the parties shall return to the Hearing Officer for recommendations.

 

            Non-Support

 

            (1)       Pursuant to La. R.S. 46:236.5 and applicable articles of the Louisiana Children’s Code, this Court implements an expedited process for the establishment, modification and enforcement of support obligations by appointment of one or more Hearing Officers to hear support and support-related matters.  The Hearing Officer shall act as a finder of fact and shall make recommendations to the Court.  At the conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Officer shall render a written recommendation to the Court.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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            (2).      Pursuant to the authority of La. R.S. 46:236.5, in all Title IV-D Social Security Act cases presently pending and arising in the future, the Court shall assess an additional five (5%) percent to each support obligation, including existing arrearages and future arrearages, as well as ongoing support payments.  

 

            (3)       Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, the minutes of the Court shall reflect the amount made executory followed by the words “plus five (5%) percent thereof as a fee to fund the administrative costs of expedited process.”

 

                        (4).      Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, Support Enforcement Services (SES), shall docket all non-support cases, both civil and criminal, pertaining to the establishment, collection and enforcement of support orders.  Such cases shall be heard by the Hearing Officers appointed by the 14th Judicial District Court to preside over non-support hearings.  The legal representatives of Support Enforcement Services shall represent the interest of the State at the hearings. The State shall be the prosecuting officer in these cases and shall have a representative in court when such cases are docketed.

 

The Hearing Officers are authorized to develop the necessary forms in order to effectuate the prompt and efficient movement of all such cases through court, subject to the Court’s approval.

 

            (5).      The guidelines as set forth in La. R.S. 9:315 et seq. are to be used in any proceeding to establish or modify child support.

 

The Court or Hearing Officer may deviate from the guidelines if the application would not be in the best interest of the child or would be inequitable to the parties.  The Court or Hearing Officer shall give specific oral or written reasons for the deviation, including a finding as to the amount of support that would have been required under a strict application of the guidelines.

 

            (6).      All court proceedings shall be initiated by pleadings setting forth the relief sought by the moving party or the category of hearing which is being requested (i.e. reduction, contempt, etc.), as well as the names of all relevant parties and the docket number of the case.

 

All rules and motions filed on behalf of the defendant/payor must be submitted in writing with an appropriate certificate of service on opposing counsel.

 

When rules are filed alleging contempt for failure to pay support as ordered, the Regional Support Enforcement Services Office shall procure a computer printout of the defendant’s account to assist the Court or Hearing Officer in determining the proper status of the account.  Both parties are to provide proof of support paid and/or received during the period of time in question.

 

 

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            (7).      At the hearings to initially set support or modification of an existing order, both the defendant and the person seeking the order of support or modification, shall bring to court, a copy of their two most recent federal tax returns, four recent pay check stubs or most recent  pay check stub with a year-to-date gross earnings, proof of the cost for medical insurance premiums to insure the child or children only, and proof of child care expense, or certification/evidence of state or federal benefits.

 

            (8).      When the person owing the support (designated as “Respondent”) resides within the jurisdiction of the Fourteenth Judicial District Court and the petitioner resides in another state, such cases shall be designated as “Responding UIFSA.”

 

In Responding URESA and Responding UIFSA matters, when the Respondent is ordered to contribute to the support of his dependents, the Court may order him to pay an additional amount as costs not to exceed 5% of the support order.

 

            (9).      Any objection to the Hearing Officer’s recommendations shall be made by utilizing Form O and shall be filed with the Clerk of Court within ten (10) days from the date of transmittal of the recommendation.  The recommendation may be transmitted in open court, in chambers, or by mail.  If transmitted by mail, notice shall be mailed to the location where service was made and the date of transmittal is date of mailing, as reflected on the notice filed in the record.

 

Upon filing a written objection to the Hearing Officer’s recommendation, a hearing shall be set before the assigned Judge.  If no objection to the Hearing Officer’s recommendation is timely filed, the Hearing Officer’s recommendations shall be a final judgment of the Court.

 

            (10).    Payment and collection of support shall be in accordance with La. R.S. 46:236.5 et. seq.

 

            (11).    Both parties in a court ordered support matter shall notify the Regional Support Enforcement Services Office in writing of any change of address, place of employment or change income.

           

Community Property Partition

 

            (1).     All partition actions shall be commenced by petition, supplemental petition or reconventional demand and shall include a description of the claims the party seeks to have decided by the Court, and shall comply in all other respects with La. R.S. 9:2801.  The sworn detailed descriptive lists filed by the parties shall be in conformity with the Detailed Descriptive List, Form X. All partitions shall be filed in the same suit number of the divorce between the parties. 

 

 

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                        (2).     Upon placement of the matter on the trial docket,  the parties shall have a Hearing Officer Conference before the Hearing Officer no less than thirty (30) days prior to trial. 

 

(3).      At least fifteen (15) days prior to the Hearing Officer Conference, each party through counsel shall confer with the other to prepare a Combined Detailed Descriptive List, Form Y, or a format agreed upon by both parties. That combined list shall contain the following information:

           

                                    (a)       A list of all assets, liabilities, and reimbursement claims asserted by either party in their respective detailed descriptive lists;

 

                                    (b)       A notation of all agreements between the parties as to the nature of the asset or liability and/or the value or balance due of each;

 

                                    (c)       A notation of all agreements between the parties as to the validity and amounts of reimbursement claims;

 

                                    (d)       A brief statement beside each asset, liability, and/or reimbursement claim about which there is a disagreement.  The statement should indicate whether the dispute is factual, legal, or both and include a citation to any statute or case law upon which either party relies, if any; and

                                   

                                    (e).      A list of witnesses to be called and exhibits to be introduced. Any         

                                    objections to witnesses or exhibits should be noted on the combined list with a short explanation of the nature of the objection.  Any witness or exhibit not set forth on the combined list will, at the discretion of the Court, be excluded from trial.

 

The original Combined Detailed Descriptive List shall be presented to the Hearing Officer five (5) days prior to the Hearing Officer Conference.  Should either party seek appointment of an expert or, upon review of the unresolved issues it becomes apparent that an expert may be necessary to aid and assist the Court at trial, a designation of the expert shall be made by the Hearing Officer at the Hearing Officer Conference.

 

(4).      At the Hearing Officer Conference, the Hearing Officer shall determine the issues of the case, hear evidence  and review documentary evidence that pertains to the issues, attempt resolution of all issues, and make recommendations on any unresolved issues.

 

 

 

 

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(5).      In the event the Hearing Officer determines that the matter is appropriate for mediation, the Hearing Officer shall issue a Mediation Order, Form Q, in

accordance with Rule 24. If the parties are unable to resolve all issues at mediation, the parties shall return to the Hearing Officer for recommendations.

 

(6).      The Hearing Officer shall have the right to appoint any experts needed to perform valuations of any property in the community or between co-owners and shall apportion the cost of the experts between the parties. The Hearing Officer may order the parties to return for a Hearing Officer Conference upon the receipt of the expert’s report to attempt resolution of all issues and make recommendations on any unresolved issues.

 

(7).      The Hearing Officer shall have the power to appoint a Special Master in those cases involving extraordinary, unique, or extremely complex issues of fact and/or law.  The costs shall be divided between the parties unless frivolous trial motions are made.   The Special Master shall act as the Court’s (1) advisor on facts, (2) expert on the law, and (3) organizer of any evidence or experts.  The Special Master may take testimony and evidence, if necessary, to complete the report to the Judge.  The testimony shall be taken in the same manner as a deposition and evidence/documents may be requested by letter.  The Special Master is not to conduct a full trial, but is to advise the Court through written memorandum of the facts the experts have found and submit expert legal opinions on the specific issues needed to be addressed, including how the partition should be decided.  The Special Master shall complete his investigation within ninety (90) days.  In a written memorandum, the Special Master may request additional time, which may be granted upon good cause shown.  A copy of the memorandum shall be provided to the parties by certified mail and they shall report to the Court within ten (10) days of the receipt of the memorandum, if its content is accepted in its entirety or specifically list those items still in dispute, or items to which the party will stipulate.  The Court may then indicate whether or not it will follow the memorandum.  Either party shall retain the right to a full trial on the merits, should they disagree with the memorandum; however, the Court retains the right to cast one party for all of the Special Master’s costs and fees, if that party makes a frivolous motion for a full trial on the merits.  La. C. Civ. Proc. Arts. 863 and 864 and the Disciplinary Code shall be used to determine if the motion for trial is frivolous. 

 

                        (8).      If the parties are unable to resolve the community property partition at the Hearing Officer Conference, the Hearing Officer shall issue a written Hearing Officer Conference Report with recommendations on all unresolved at or within a reasonable time following the Hearing Officer Conference

 

                        (9).      Parties are instructed to continue to attempt issue resolution up to and including the date of trial.  Should there be any changes on the Combined Detail Descriptive

 

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                                    List submitted to the Hearing Officer at the Hearing Officer Conference, the changes shall be made to the Combined Detailed Descriptive List and the updated list shall be submitted to the office of the assigned Judge no later than five (5) working days prior to the pretrial conference.

 

                    (10).            The Court may, on motion of either party, or on its own motion, require a separate hearing on contested issues of law or fact or on the issues of the separate or community nature of assets or obligations and/or the valuation of assets, liabilities or reimbursements, prior to a trial on the merits.  Decisions on questions of law or fact shall be considered preliminary findings in nature for appeal purposes.  No appeal may be taken until the final judgment covering all the community property issues is signed pursuant to La. R.S. 9:2801 et seq.  See La. C. Civ. Proc. art. 1915.

 

            (11).   It shall be the responsibility of any party, who is an employee participant in a benefit plan in which the community possesses an interest, to obtain all available forms and other necessary information from the plan administrator which shall be submitted to the Hearing Officer and/or Court, as well as, opposing counsel, or the opposing party if unrepresented, so that a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) can be prepared as directed by the Hearing Officer and/or Court.

 

            (12).   Except for good cause shown, any copies of items (as opposed to originals) produced in response to pretrial discovery, which are otherwise admissible into evidence at the trial of the matter, shall be admissible at trial unless an objection is made thereto at the Hearing Officer Conference, and placed in the Combined Detail Descriptive List delineating each item objected to and the legal basis for the objection.

 

RULE 24.       MEDIATION

 

            Section A. If the Hearing Officer or Court determines that a matter is appropriate for mediation, a Mediation Order, Form Q, shall be issued.  The Hearing Officer or Court shall determine the terms and conditions upon which the parties shall participate in mediation.  Prior to the execution of a mediation order, the parties may agree to a mediator of their choosing.

 

            Section B.    A party objecting to the order of mediation shall raise those objections at the Hearing Officer Conference.  If a continuance is granted, the mediation order shall remain in effect unless the motion contains certification by both parties or their attorneys that mediation is not warranted. 

Section C.   In order to be listed as an approved mediator with the Family and Juvenile Court, an individual shall have successfully completed mediation training in accordance with La. R.S. 9:334, provided a resume and proof of professional liability insurance and be a practicing member of the Family Mediation Council of Louisiana.  Individuals seeking to be placed on the list of approved mediators shall agree to charge according to the fee schedule promulgated by the Family and Juvenile Court Judges.

 

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Section D.  After mediation has been ordered, the appointed mediator shall file an Acceptance of Appointment and Initial Disclosure, Form R, and the Initial Appointment Notice, Form S.

 

Section E.  The mediator shall communicate with the parties and schedule mediation sessions as appropriate.  The mediator shall encourage and assist the parties in reaching a settlement of their dispute but may not compel or coerce the parties to enter into a settlement agreement. 

 

Section F.  Mediators shall preserve and maintain the confidentiality of mediation proceedings pursuant to La. R.S. 9:332 C.

 

(1)       They shall keep confidential from opposing parties any information obtained in individual caucuses unless the party or parties to a caucus permit disclosure.

 

(2)       They shall maintain confidentiality in the storage and disposal of records and shall render anonymous all identifying information when materials are used for research, training or statistical compilations.

 

(3)       All discussions during mediation, including statements made by any party, attorney or other participant, are privileged in all respects.  The mediation discussions shall not be reported, recorded, placed into evidence, made known to the trial court, or construed for any purpose as an admission against interest.

 

(4)       The mediator shall not be named as a witness, nor may the mediator’s records be subpoenaed or used as evidence, nor shall the mediator’s deposition be taken, or any other discovery had against the mediator.

 

Section G.    At the conclusion of the mediation between the parties, the mediator shall submit to the Court a Final Report of Mediator, Form T.  In the event a total or partial agreement is reached, a memorandum of understanding summarizing the nature and substance of the parties’ agreement shall be signed by both parties.  The mediator shall provide to both parties and their respective legal counsel a copy of the agreement.  The mediator shall notify the parties and their respective legal counsel that if there is no written objection to the agreement made within 30 days from the date of the mailing of the agreement or prior to the hearing on custody, whichever occurs first, the mediator shall submit the agreement to the Court, with an accompanying order to make the agreement a judgment of the Court.   In the event no agreement was reached, the mediator shall report to the Court, the parties and their respective legal counsel that the parties were unable to reach a mediated agreement.

 

Section H.  Failure to schedule or attend mediation appointments or comply with the Court’s mediation order in any way may constitute contempt of court.

 

Section I.  The cost of mediation shall initially be borne proportionally as set by the Hearing Officer and/or the Court, unless the parties agree otherwise, and may be taxed as costs of court. The minimum portion paid by either party shall be 20% of the total cost.  At the conclusion of mediation, if a mediator’s fee is not paid, it shall be certified by the mediator and placed in the record.  All court filings made by the mediator shall be accepted by the Clerk of Court without any filing fee from the mediator, but the cost of filing shall be taxed as costs of court.

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RULE 25:           MENTAL HEALTH ASSISTANCE

    

Section A.  If mental health assistance is ordered, an Order for Mental Health Assistance, Form

U, shall be executed and delivered to the mental health professional, all parties, and all counsel of record by hand delivery, mail, or facsimile.

 

Section B.  Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, when a custody evaluation is ordered, the “mental health professional” shall be a person who is a psychiatrist or a person who possesses a doctorate degree in counseling, social work, psychology, public health or marriage and family counseling and is licensed by the appropriate State Board.

 

Section C.  Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, when any other type of mental health assistance is ordered, the “mental health professional” shall be a person who possesses at least a master’s degree in counseling, social work, psychology, or marriage and family counseling and is licensed by the appropriate State Board.

 

Section D.  Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, when mental health assistance is ordered, there shall have been no prior communications between the attorneys or the parties and the mental health professional concerning the issues in the pending matter, other than communications for the sole purpose of determining the availability of the mental health professional or to identify any conflicts of interest the mental health professional may have with the parties or the children.

 

Section E.  When mental health assistance is ordered and the mental health professional has been appointed, the attorneys and the mental health professional shall proceed as follows:   

 

 

 

(1)     There shall be no contact between the attorneys and the mental health professional other than in writing, with copies of all correspondence and attachments copied to opposing party with the attorney’s certification. Any oral contacts shall be by conference call or joint meeting which shall include all counsel or parties, if unrepresented.  All correspondence from the mental health professional shall be directed to the Court and all attorneys of record.  Any violation of this rule shall be reported by the mental health professional to the Court.

 

(2)            The attorneys shall not use the clients or the children to send written communications to the mental health professional.

 

(3)            In the event the mental health professional determines that the minor child is at risk for physical injury or may suffer serious and demonstrable psychological trauma due to the condition or circumstances of any party or any child, the mental health professional shall immediately notify the Court and all counsel of record in writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RULE 26:           SUPERVISED VISITATION

 

If the Court determines that supervised visitation is necessary, the Court may order the visitation

to occur at a designated facility that provides supervision services utilizing an Order for Supervised

Visitation, Form V, or it may designate one or more suitable adults to act as a supervisor.  If an individual is designated as a supervisor, he/she shall read and sign an Order for Supervised Visitation, Form W, indicating understanding of his/her duties and responsibilities. 

 

RULE 27.             APPLICATION OF RULES

 

            Section A.  Failure by attorneys or self-represented litigants to comply with any of the rules herein, or any other law or procedure, may result in the rejection of nonconforming pleadings, dismissal of the case, continuances, limitation on the presentation of evidence or witnesses, sanctions provide by law, or other appropriate relief. 

 

            Section B.  The Court may, in exceptional circumstances, deviate from these rules in the interest of justice and proper administration of the Court. 

 

            Section C.  Attorneys and self-represented litigants are also directed to Title I and Title IV of the uniform Rules for Louisiana District Courts, which are applicable in proceedings in this Court.  In the event of conflict, these local rules provide the more specific rules applicable in this Court.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FORMS

 

A.           Allotment

B.            Notices

C.            Clerk’s Form

D.           Ex Parte Affidavit

E.            Ex Parte Certification

F.             Motion for Continuance

G.            Hearing Officer Conference Order

H.           Pretrial and Trial Order

I.               In Forma Pauperis Affidavit

J.              Suggested Joint Custody Plan

K.           State Case Registry Data Form

L.             102 Checklist

M.          103 Checklist

N.           Family Law Affidavit

O.           Appeal of Hearing Officer’s Recommendations

P.             Arrearage Worksheet for Spousal Support and/or Child Support

Q.           Mediation Order

R.            Mediator’s Acceptance of Appointment and Initial Disclosure

S.             Initial Appointment Notice

T.            Final Report of Mediator

U.           Order for Mental Health Assistance

V.           Order for Supervised Visitation – Whistle Stop

W.         Order for Supervised Visitation – Individual

X.           Detailed Descriptive List

Y.           Combined Detailed Descriptive List

 

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