Appealed from the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District Court for
the Parish of Bossier, Louisiana Trial Court No. 148858
Honorable Jeff R. Thompson, Judge
KING & LANDRY, LLP Counsel for Appellant By: April M.
Hammett J. Dhu Thompson
JEAN-PAUL GUIDRY Counsel for Appellee
GARRETT, STEPHENS, and BLEICH (Ad Hoc), JJ.
BLEICH, J. (AD HOC)
appeal is from the trial court's custody judgment that
awarded the parties, Tian Vonte Wylie ("Tian") and
Emily Michelle Wylie (now Snyder) ("Emily"), joint
custody of their minor daughter Samaya ("Maya").
The judgment is based, inter alia, upon the
court's findings that Emily had engaged in tactics and
behaviors constituting parental alienation that had almost
destroyed the father-daughter relationship between Tian and
Maya and granted Tian's request to relocate Maya to
Florida. The judgment gave primary physical custody and
domiciliary status to Tian, ordered that Tian and Maya
undergo reunification therapy and, following completion of
therapy and counseling specifically dealing with parental
alienation issues, awarded Emily specified periods of
visitation with Maya. For the reasons set forth below, we
affirm the judgment of the trial court.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
and Emily were married on July 19, 2005. At the time of the
marriage, Emily had three children, one of whom lived with
Emily's mother. The other two children lived with Tian
and Emily. During the Wylies' marriage, a daughter, Maya,
was born on December 10, 2007. Because of an extramarital
affair on the part of Emily with the couple's recently
widowed neighbor, Tian and Emily separated. Tian filed a
petition for divorce on December 22, 2015, and he filed an
amended petition on February 18, 2016, seeking a divorce on
the grounds of adultery. The parties were divorced on July 1,
were several interim custody orders issued, as well as a
series of mental health experts, including a parenting
coordinator, appointed by the trial judge. The judge
recognized early in this matter the emotional damage and
distress the minor child was sustaining, as well as her
sudden rejection of any type of relationship with Tian,
making a valiant effort to address these issues by having the
parties and Maya undergo psychological testing and
participate in counseling.
hearing for the initial setting of custody was held over
three days: July 9, August 31, and September 20, 2018.
Because of Tian's move to Florida due to a military
assignment, in addition to focusing on the issue of which
parent would provide the most stable and suitable home for
Maya, the trial court also had to decide a related issue,
whether to grant Tian's request that Maya relocate to
Florida to live with him. After considering the testimony and
documentary evidence, the trial court issued a detailed, most
thorough written opinion setting forth its findings on
October 22, 2018, and on December 7, 2018, signed a judgment
awarding the parties joint custody, with Tian being named
domiciliary parent, and granting Tian's request for
Maya's relocation. It is from this judgment that Emily has
asserts on appeal that the trial court erred in finding that
relocation was in the best interest of Maya, thus modifying
the custodial arrangement the parties were at the time
following under an interim order, which was equal and shared
custody, with Emily as primary domiciliary parent and Tian
having visitation during the summer and holiday periods.
parent seeking to relocate the principal residence of a minor
child has the burden of proving that the proposed relocation
is in good faith and that the proposed relocation is in the
best interest of the child. La. R.S. 9:355.10; Hernandez
v. Jenkins, 12-2756 (La. 06/21/13), 122 So.3d 524;
Curole v. Curole, 02-1891 (La. 10/15/02), 828 So.2d
1094; Blake v. Morris, 51, 402 (La.App. 2 Cir.
06/30/17), 222 So.3d 1277, writ denied, 17-1334 (La.
09/15/17), 225 So.3d 478. La. R.S. 9:355.14 provides 12
factors that the court must consider in determining whether
the proposed relocation is in the best interest of the child
as well as other relevant factors. Blake, supra.
court's determination in a relocation matter is entitled
to great weight and will not be overturned on appeal absent a
clear showing of abuse of discretion. Gathen v.
Gathen, 10-2312 (La. 05/10/11), 66 So.3d 1; Curole,
supra. Upon review, the entire record reflects that the
trial court properly considered all of the factors mandated
by La. R.S. 9:355.14 (formerly designated as La. R.S.
9:355.12). The trial reasonably concluded, based upon the
totality of the circumstances, that relocation would be in
the child's best interest. Gathen, supra. While
La. R.S. 9:355.14 requires consideration of all 12 factors,
it does not direct the court to give preferential
consideration to any certain factor or factors. Id.;
Curole, supra; Payne v. Payne, 41, 049 (La.App.
2 Cir. 05/19/06), 930 So.2d 1181, writ denied,
06-1871 (La. 08/09/06), 935 So.2d 130.
instant case, neither party argued or directly addressed,
either at the trial court or appellate level, La. R.S.
9:355.10's requirement that the parent seeking to
relocate must prove that the proposed relocation is in
"good faith," an inquiry separate and apart from
the determination of whether the relocation is in the
child's best interest. Jurisprudence has defined the
meaning of "good faith" in the context of
relocation as a legitimate or valid reason for the move.
See, Mathes v. Faucheux, 17-0329 (La.App. 4 Cir.
08/09/17), 226 So.3d 503; McLain v. McLain, 07-0752
(La.App. 4 Cir. 12/12/07), 974 So.2d 726. Legitimate reasons
for relocation include: to be close to significant family or
other support networks; for significant health reasons; to
protect the safety of the child or another member of the
child's household from a significant risk of harm; to
pursue a significant employment or educational
opportunity; or to be with one's spouse (or
equivalent) who is established, or is pursuing a significant
employment or educational opportunity in another location.
Gathen, supra; Mathes, supra; McLain, supra.
"Motion to Authorize Relocation of the Minor
Child," Tian asserted that he was being relocated by the
U.S. Air Force to Patrick Air Force Base in Brevard County,
Florida, at the end of August 2017, and that this relocation
was an advancement in his career. He further averred that
relocation of Maya would provide her with, inter
alia, a positive role model with a successful career,
the stability that comes from such a career, and financial
benefits. The following testimony by Tian at trial was
• Tian moved to Florida in August 2017 after completing
officer training school in Alabama. He relocated to Florida
then because the time had come where he either had to leave
Barksdale or get out of the military.
• All of his employment offers were
out of state; he had offers in Virginia,
Mississippi, Tennessee, and Florida. He decided to stay with
the military to have some consistency-that is how he ended up
in Florida. The opportunity to become an officer was a good
one; he makes more money and can provide more opportunities
• Tian's move to Louisiana was never
intended to be permanent, but was a temporary
assignment with the military.
• Tian stated that neither he nor Emily was a big fan of
Barksdale originally; they were concerned about the schools
and cultural issues they might face with them being an
interracial couple. There has always been a desire to get ...