FROM THE THIRTY-THIRD JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
ALLEN, NO. C-2017-091 HONORABLE JOEL G. DAVIS, DISTRICT JUDGE
Welch COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE
LeBlanc COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT
composed of Marc T. Amy, Shannon J. Gremillion, and Candyce
G. Perret, Judges.
T. AMY JUDGE
case is a custody dispute concerning the parties' minor
child. The trial court awarded joint custody with a shared
physical custody arrangement. The mother now appeals. For the
following reasons, we affirm and remand with instructions.
and Procedural Background
LeBlanc and Cody Welch were married in Allen Parish. Together
they are the mother and father, respectively, of one minor
child, who was born on October 5, 2011. On March 14, 2017,
Ms. LeBlanc filed a Petition for 102 Divorce and
Determination of Incidental Matters. In the petition, Ms.
LeBlanc alleged that it is in the best interest of the child
for the parties to be awarded joint custody, with Ms. LeBlanc
being designated as the domiciliary parent and Mr. Welch
having set visitation privileges. In his answer, Mr. Welch
asserted a reconventional demand in which he alleged that
there should be shared physical custody of the child and that
the parties should be granted possession of the child for
alternating three-day periods.
hearing, various members of the child's family testified
about the child's history and the parents' schedules
relating to the child. The mother testified that she takes
the child to school at about 7:15 a.m. on her way to work.
She explained that after school, the child rides the school
bus to the maternal grandmother's home until the mother
returns from work at about 5:30 - 6:00 p.m. The maternal
grandmother testified that on Wednesday afternoons, she takes
the child to dance lessons, while the mother takes the child
to church activities on Wednesday evenings. The mother
explained that she takes the child to church services on
mother also explained that she has another child from a
previous relationship. The record indicates that the child
and the maternal half-sibling have lived together since the
child's birth with the exception that the half-sibling
has visitation with her biological father every other
weekend. The mother explained that the child and the
half-sibling are "[v]ery" close to each other.
father testified that he typically leaves for work at 5:00
a.m. and does not return until about 6:00 p.m. He explained
that the child's paternal grandmother, grandfather, and
great-grandmother will assist him in caring for the child
when he is at work. The paternal grandmother testified that,
if the father receives custody during the school week, she is
willing and able to come to the father's home at 5:00
a.m. so that the child will not have to be awakened when the
father leaves for work. Additionally, the paternal
grandmother and the paternal aunt stated that they are
willing and able to watch the child after school, as well as
to assist the father generally.
the hearing, the trial court issued a "Judgment on Rule
for Custody and Determination of Incidental Matters." In
the judgment, the trial court awarded joint custody of the
child with shared physical visitation according to the
following custody/visitation schedule:
During the school year: Father shall have the child every
other Wednesday after school until Saturday morning at 10:00
a.m.; Mother shall have the child every other Saturday
morning at 10:00 a.m. until Thursday morning when she drops
the child off at school; Father shall have the child every
other Thursday after school until Monday morning when he
returns her to school; and Mother shall have the child every
other Monday after school until Wednesday morning when she
drops the child off at school.
During the summer months of June and July, the parties shall
maintain the standard visitation rotation unless they agree
to change possession of the child to alternating weeks from
Tuesday to Tuesday.
the trial court ordered that the parties alternate holidays
according to the court's holiday visitation schedule. The
trial court neither designated a domiciliary parent in the
judgment nor allocated legal authority and responsibility for
the child in a joint custody implementation order.
On appeal, Ms. LeBlanc asserts the following assignments of
1. The trial court disregarded the feasibility of the shared
physical custody arrangement in contravention of La. R.S.
2.The trial court committed manifest error and abused its
discretion by awarding shared physical custody without
considering the factors enunciated in La. C.C. art. 134.
a. the spiritual guidance of the child,
b. permanence of a family unit by separating [the] minor
child with her sibling,
c. the history of the child,
d. willingness and ability of each party to facilitate and
encourage a close and continuing relationship with the ...