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Gary v. LeBlanc

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

June 7, 2017

BROCK TAYLOR GARY
v.
ALIRENEE LEBLANC

         APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-SEVENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ST. LANDRY, NO. 16-C-2314-A HONORABLE JAMES P. DOHERTY JR., DISTRICT JUDGE

          Brenda Sibille Piccione Piccione & Piccione COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Brock Taylor Gary

          Gay L. Babin Piccione & Piccione COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Brock Taylor Gary

          Abbey L. Williams Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Ali Renee LeBlanc

          Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Billy Howard Ezell, and Van H. Kyzar, Judges.

          VAN H. KYZAR JUDGE

         Brock Taylor Gary, the plaintiff, seeks the reversal of the trial court judgment in favor of Ali Renee LeBlanc, mother of the parties' minor child, granting the parties joint custody of the child but designating her as the principal custodial parent, ordering him to pay child support, and denying his request to amend the child's birth certificate changing the child's last name to "Gary". For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court as amended herein.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Brock Taylor Gary and Ali Renee LeBlanc are the unmarried parents of Alaia Claire LeBlanc, who was born in October of 2008. Both LeBlanc and Gary were 16 years old at the time. The parties acknowledge that the child has lived with LeBlanc as the domiciliary parent since her birth, with Gary exercising regular visitation every other weekend and occasional vacations and paying a mutually agreed upon amount in child support since the child was two months of age, though there was no formal or signed agreement.

         In May of 2016, Gary became aware of an incident that occurred in March of the same year in which Alaia, the minor child, allegedly witnessed her four-year-old half-brother being sexually molested and choked by her maternal grandmother's boyfriend. LeBlanc and her three children, Alaia and two half-brothers, primarily live with LeBlanc's mother, as well as occasional time spent living with a Travis Bergeron, LeBlanc's boyfriend and father of her third child. Alaia has resided with LeBlanc at LeBlanc's mother's home for the majority of her life.

         In response to the incident concerning Alaia's half-brother and alleging other factors, Gary petitioned the trial court to name him as domiciliary parent and asked that the child's last name be changed from LeBlanc to Gary. LeBlanc answered the suit and filed a reconventional demand for child support. When rendering its judgment, the trial court specifically took into consideration the requirements of La.Civ.Code art. 134, which provides a non-exclusive list of twelve factors to determine the child's best interest, as well as the Louisiana child support worksheets. The trial court awarded the parties joint custody of the child and designated LeBlanc as the domiciliary parent, setting scheduled custodial visitation in favor of Gary. The trial court denied Gary's name change request, and ordered Gary to pay child support in the sum of $941.49 per month. This appeal followed.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS

         On appeal, Gary asserts three assignments of error by the trial court. They are as follows:

1. The trial court erred in awarding domiciliary status to a mother with unstable relationships, inappropriate housing arrangements, and questionable regard for her child's health and well-being.
2. The trial court erred as a matter of law in its ruling on a request for the child's name to be changed.
3. The trial court erred in failing to consider the child's time with Mr. Gary as a basis for adjustment to the amount of child support to be paid during that period of time and in using bonuses in the calculation of child support payments.

         OPINION

         Custody

         The standard of review in child custody cases has been clearly stated by this court:

The trial court is in a better position to evaluate the best interest of the child from its observances of the parties and witnesses; thus, a trial court's determination in a child custody case is entitled to great weight on appeal and will not be disturbed unless there is a clear abuse of discretion. Hawthorne v. Hawthorne, 96-89 (La.App. 3 Cir. 5/22/96), 676 So.2d 619, 625, writ denied, 96-1650 (La. 10/25/96), 681So.2d365.

Gremillion v. Gremillion, 07-492 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/3/07) 966 So.2d 1228, 1231- 32. The procedure to be followed by appellate courts in determining whether an abuse of discretion ...


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