FROM THE THIRTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF VERNON,
NO. 92,890 A HONORABLE TONY A. BENNETT, DISTRICT JUDGE
M. Sanchez Tony C. Fazzio The Sanchez Law Firm, L.L.C.
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Andrea C. Carranza
W. Lambright Lambright Law Firm COUNSEL FOR
PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Keith Carranza
composed of John D. Saunders, Elizabeth A. Pickett, and Van
H. Kyzar, Judges.
mother, Andrea C. Carranza, appeals from a trial court
judgment denying her request to relocate her minor children
to the State of Washington. For the following reasons, we
reverse in part and render, affirm in part, vacate in part,
and remand for further proceedings.
OF THE RECORD
Carranza and Andrea C. Carranza were married in Leesville,
Vernon Parish, Louisiana on April 20, 2012. Two children were
born of the marriage, Laila, born September 7, 2013, and
Lilia, born September 18, 2015. Both parties are enlisted in
the United States Army and were stationed at Fort Polk at the
time of their marriage. At some point, their duty station was
changed to Germany, where both of their children were born.
They were then transferred back to Fort Polk in January 2016.
The parents were divorced pursuant to an August 3, 2017
judgment of divorce.
an October 11, 2017 custody hearing, the trial court rendered
a judgment on October 18, 2017, finding that it was in the
best interests of the minor children that the parents be
awarded joint custody and that the mother be designated the
domiciliary parent. The trial court noted that because Ms.
Carranza was to be transferred to Fort Lewis, Washington at
some point before August 2018, it declined to rule on a
custody plan. It stated, "That would be more
appropriately dealt with closer in time to that
March 21,2017, Ms. Carranza filed a petition seeking to
relocate the minor children's residence from Fort Polk to
Fort Lewis. Attached to her petition was a copy of her
January 27, 2018 certified letter to Mr. Carranza, notifying
him of her intent to relocate the children's primary
residence to Fort Lewis, effective May 11, 2018, and a copy
of Mr. Carranza's February 26, 2018 objection to the
relocation. Mr. Carranza filed a motion to prevent the
relocation and, alternatively, a motion to change custody,
with him being designated the children's domiciliary
a May 10, 2018 hearing, the trial court rendered a written
ruling on June 1, 2018, finding that Ms. Carranza's
request to relocate was not made in good faith and that it
was not in the best interests of the
children. The trial court further held that
Mr. Carranza failed to prove that a material change
in circumstances warranted him being named the
domiciliary parent. However, it stated that in the event that
Ms. Carranza transferred to Fort Lewis, Mr. Carranza would
have the legal authority to make all decisions regarding
educational and medical matters pertaining to the children.
The implementation plan contained in the judgment stated that
the children would primarily
reside with Mr. Carranza in Vernon Parish, with Ms.
Carranza granted summer visitation. A
written judgment was rendered in
this matter on July 26, 2018. It is from
this judgment that Ms. Carranza appeals.
appeal, Ms. Carranza raises three assignments of error:
1. The trial court
incorrectly ruled that Andrea Carranza's relocation was
not in good faith.
2. The trial court erred
when it failed to apply the Bergeron standard to its
analysis of the best interest of the child factors for
the relocation of the residence of the minor
3. The trial court incorrectly ruled that
while maintaining Andrea Carranza as the domiciliary parent
of the minor children that their primary residence would be
with the non-domiciliary parent, as well as,
giving him decision making authority of educational and
matter before us lies squarely within the juxtaposition of
the burden of proof required for a change of custody and that
required for relocation of the children to another state by a
parent with domiciliary custody, when both parents are
active-duty soldiers with the United States Army. Here, Ms.
Carranza was the domiciliary parent of the minor children by
virtue of an October 18, 2017 judgment, which was granted
after the trial court took into consideration the fact that
she was being transferred to Fort Lewis. Upon the issuance of
her transfer orders, Ms. Carranza notified Mr. Carranza of
her intent to relocate the children, to which he objected. He
further objected to the relocation after Ms. Carranza filed
her petition to relocate in the trial court. In addition to
objecting to the relocation, Mr. Carranza moved for a change
in custody, requesting that he be designated the domiciliary
parent proposing relocation has the burden of proof that the
proposed relocation is made in good faith and in the best
interest of the child." La.R.S. 9:355.10. In determining
whether relocation is in the best interest of the child, a
trial court considers the following relevant factors set out
in La.R.S. 9:355.14:
(1)The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration
of the relationship of the child with the person proposing
relocation and with the non-relocating person, siblings, and
other significant persons in the child's life.
(2) The age, developmental stage, needs of the child, and the
likely impact the relocation will have on the child's
physical, educational, and emotional development.
(3)The feasibility of preserving a good relationship between
the non-relocating person and the child through suitable
physical custody or visitation arrangements, considering the
logistics and financial circumstances of the parties.
(4)The child's views about the proposed relocation,
taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.
(5) Whether there is an established pattern of conduct by
either the person seeking or the person opposing the
relocation, either to promote or thwart the relationship of
the child and the other party.
(6)How the relocation of the child will affect the general
quality of life for the child, including but not limited to
financial or emotional benefit and educational opportunity.
(7) The reasons of each person for seeking or opposing the
(8)The current employment and economic circumstances of each
person and how the proposed relocation may affect the
circumstances of the child.
(9) The extent to which the objecting person has fulfilled
his financial obligations to the person seeking relocation,
including child support, spousal support, and community
property, and alimentary obligations.
(10)The feasibility of a relocation by the objecting person.
(11)Any history of substance abuse, harassment, or violence
by either the person seeking or the person opposing
relocation, including a consideration of the severity of the
conduct and the failure ...