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Billiot v. Billiot

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

November 14, 2018

KEITH DAVID BILLIOT Defendant-Appellee

          Appealed from the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Bossier, Louisiana Trial Court No. 127, 361 Honorable Jeff R. Thompson, Judge

          JOHN N. BOKENFOHR Counsel for Appellant.

          WEEMS, SCHIMPF, HAINES, SHEMWELL & MOORE By: Kenneth P. Haines Carey T. Schimpf Counsel for Appellee.

          Before PITMAN, GARRETT, and BLEICH (Pro Tempore), JJ.

          PITMAN, J.

         Plaintiff-Appellant Audrey Lynn Masterson Billiot ("Mrs. Henry") appeals the trial court's judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellee Keith David Billiot. For the following reasons, we affirm in part and dismiss in part.


         The parties married on October 8, 1994, and had three children. On August 19, 2008, Mrs. Henry filed a petition for divorce. The trial court filed a judgment of divorce and incidental matters on February 19, 2009. Mrs. Henry and Mr. Billiot were awarded joint legal custody of the children, and Mr. Billiot was cast for the payment of child support.

         On December 28, 2016, Mr. Billiot filed a motion to modify child support. He stated that there have been material changes in circumstances- including that both he and Mrs. Henry have remarried and their two oldest children have reached the age of majority and no longer attend secondary schools-and, therefore, that the child support obligation should be modified.

         On May 12, 2017, Mrs. Henry filed a rule for contempt, modification of child support and to establish permanent child support. She alleged that in December 2015, Mr. Billiot unilaterally reduced his monthly child support payments and is in arrears $13, 883.25 through the payment due April 2017. She stated that their daughter Caroline, born April 11, 1996, is permanently disabled and will require special education and training, financial assistance and caretakers to assist with her physical and financial needs for the remainder of her adult life. She stated that Caroline has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) and other emotional, developmental and learning disabilities and is, therefore, entitled to permanent child support pursuant to La. R.S. 9:315.22. Mrs. Henry requested that Mr. Billiot show cause why he should not be held in contempt for his failure to seek guidance from the court as to recalculating child support, why he should not be decreed to be in arrears in his payment of child support and why he should not be required to pay permanent child support for their disabled child.

         On June 28, 2017, Mr. Billiot filed exceptions of no right or cause of action and prematurity and an answer. He argued that La. R.S. 9:315.22(D) does not apply because Caroline does not have a developmental disability and is not a full-time student in a secondary school.[1] In his answer, he stated that the parties began to disagree on the amount of child support in June 2016 when Caroline began receiving social security benefits and their second oldest child graduated from high school. He alleged that he continued to pay his child support obligation and also financially supported the children who had reached the age of majority. He stated that he is not in arrears and has overpaid his support obligation by $3, 780.

         On August 7, 2017, Mrs. Henry filed an opposition to the exceptions. She stated that Caroline attends College Living Experience ("CLE"), an educational program for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She argued that the term "secondary school" as set forth in La. R.S. 9:315.22(D) is not limited in cases of disabled children to mean only "high school."

         A hearing was held on October 23, 2017. Counsel for Mrs. Henry first addressed the rule for contempt for accrued child support payments, arguing that Mr. Billiot owed a balance of $7, 336.65 through December 2016 when he filed his motion to modify child support. Counsel for Mr. Billiot argued that he had overpaid his support obligation. Both parties submitted affidavits and documents in support of their calculations.

         The trial court then heard testimony on Mr. Billiot's exceptions. Sabrina Langley testified that she was previously employed by Bossier Parish Community College ("BPCC") as the director of the Program for Successful Employment and described the programs at BPCC available to persons with disabilities. She is currently employed as a special education facilitator for Bossier Parish schools. She explained the different diploma tracks available to Bossier Parish students and noted that the Bossier Parish School Board issues high school diplomas to students with autism if they meet the requirements for graduation. She has not met Caroline and did not know what certificate or diploma Caroline earned.

         Miyako Lee, the job development manager at the Louisiana Association for the Blind, testified that she met with Caroline and Mrs. Henry in 2016 about finding employment for Caroline. She learned that Caroline has a high school diploma, had attended BPCC and wanted to work with animals. They found Caroline ...

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