Acknowledgment of Paternity: a written document signed by a man before a notary public that declares the man who signed it is a child's father.
Best Interest of the Child: the standard Louisiana judges use to decide custody cases.
Cohabitation: living together, usually as an intimate couple.
Co-parenting: cooperative work with a child's parent toward what is best for the child.
Contempt: willful violation of a valid court order.
Consent Judgment: a judgment approved by the Court that reflects an agreement made between parties to settle the pending issues. It has the same effect as any other judgment of the Court, but it also represents a compromise between the parties.
Considered Judgment: a judgment decided by the Court and rendered after a hearing or trial. It is based on the Court's consideration of the evidence and the law that applies to the issues the Court was asked to decide.
Custody: control over a child, including physical custody and legal custody (decision-making authority).
Contested custody: when there is no agreement about who will have custody.
Custody evaluator: a mental health professional selected by the parties or the Court and appointed by the Court to evaluate a party or the child in a custody proceeding. A custody evaluator prepares a report and recommendation related to custody and serves as an expert witness of the Court.
Joint Custody: an arrangement in which a child lives primarily with one parent, the domiciliary parent, who also has decision-making authority related to the child, and the child spends specified periods of time with the non-domiciliary parent.
Shared Custody: an arrangement in which each parent has physical custody of the child for an approximately equal amount of time.
Sole Custody: an arrangement in which one parent is awarded exclusive physical and legal custody of a child or children, sometimes subject to supervised visitation awarded to the other parent.
Split Custody: an arrangement in which each party is the sole custodial or domiciliary parent of at least one child.
Domiciliary parent: the parent the child lives with most of the time. The domiciliary parent usually has the authority to make all decisions related to the child.
Enforce: to use authority or force to make or to cause something to happen. In child custody, courts can make parents follow a custody order.
Family Violence: physical or sexual abuse or any other crime against a person, except negligent injuring and defamation, when committed by one parent against the other parent or any of the children.
History of Family Violence: when a Court finds that one incident of family violence has resulted in serious bodily injury or that there has been more than one incident of family violence.
Material Change in Circumstances: the law does not define this term, which a party is required to establish when seeking a change in child custody or support. In general, it is understood to mean a change in circumstances of such significance that it impacts the child's wellbeing.
Motion to Modify Child Custody: a pleading filed with the Court that asks for a change in a custody schedule or decision making authority.
Non-domiciliary parent: the parent who is not named the domiciliary parent.
Paternity: the state of being a child's father.
Disavowal of paternity: the process by which a man challenges paternity
Legal paternity: a determination of fatherhood reached by operation of law based on the mother's marital status at the time the child was born. In Louisiana, a child can have legal paternity that is different from their biological paternity.
Presumption of paternity: a legal determination of paternity based on the mother's marital status at the time of the child's birth; particularly, when a married woman gives birth to a child, the husband of the mother is presumed to be the father of the child.
Presumption: a fact or conclusion that is accepted as true, although it is not known for sure.
Relocation: Relocation means a change in the principal residence of a child for a period of sixty days or more. For more information on relocation including terms used in relocation cases, see our Relocation Guide.
Tutorship: when a person has been appointed by a court to be legally responsible for caring for a minor child. Tutorship is usually used when a child owns property and both parents are deceased.
Visitation: physical time that a non-domiciliary parent is awarded with their child or children.
Supervised Visitation: "face-to-face contact between a parent and a child which occurs in the immediate presence of a supervising person approved by the court under conditions which prevent any physical abuse, threats, intimidation, abduction, or humiliation of either the abused parent or the child."
Voluntary Transfer of Custody by Mandate: a document by which a parent voluntarily transfers legal custody of a child to another person.