Appeal from the 20th Judicial District Court In and for the
Parish of West Feliciana State of Louisiana Trial Court No.
22, 762 Honorable William G. Carmichael, Judge Presiding
Deborah P. Gibbs Baton Rouge, LA Attorney for Plaintiff
-Appellee, Scott Joseph Fin
Natalie C. Neale Baton Rouge, LA Attorney for Defendant
-Appellant, Remy Baus Fin
BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, PENZATO, AND LANIER, JJ.
child custody matter, the mother, Remy Fin, challenges a
judgment of the trial court designating the father, Scott
Fin, as domiciliary parent.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Fin and Scott Fin were married on April 16, 2006, and during
their marriage two children were born: Joseph Baus Fin
("Baus") born September 29, 2008 and Elena Eugenie
Fin ("Lena") born March 20, 2010. On September 12,
2016, Scott filed a petition for divorce and for
determination of incidental matters, including a request for
joint custody of the minor children and designation of him as
domiciliary parent. Remy answered the petition and filed a
reconventional demand also requesting joint custody and
designation of her as the domiciliary parent.
January 11, 2017, Remy and Scott entered into a consent
judgment awarding the parties joint custody without
designation of a domiciliary parent. The judgment also set
out a holiday schedule, allowed for uninterrupted vacation
time, and provided that "all major decisions regarding
the minor children shall be mutually agreed upon by the
parties including, but not limited to, changing schools for
the minor children, enrollment in school, medical decisions,
and choice of third party care providers, etc. The children
shall remain at St. James until they graduate, unless
otherwise agreed to by the parties." On February 22,
2017, the parties were divorced.
on October 29, 2018, Scott filed a "Rule to Modify
Custody" requesting that he be designated as domiciliary
parent and that the custody schedule be modified so that the
children reside primarily with him during the school year. In
the alternative, Scott requested that he be awarded legal
authority to make decisions with regard to school enrollment
for the minor children pursuant to La. R.S. 9;335A(3). In his
rule, Scott pointed out that Baus was graduating from St.
James in May 2019, and the parties had been unable to agree
upon his school placement after his graduation. Remy answered
Scott's rule to modify custody and filed a reconventional
demand requesting that custody of the children remain week to
week, and that she be designated as domiciliary parent. In
the alternative, she requested that she be granted the
authority to make decisions regarding school enrollment for
the minor children.
rule and Remy's answer and reconventional demand came
before the trial court on January 22, 2019. Prior to the
hearing, the parties entered into several stipulations
including: the continuation of week-to-week custody, a
holiday schedule, and that "all major decisions
regarding the children shall be discussed by the parties
including, but not limited to, changing schools for the minor
children, enrollment in school, medical decisions, and choice
of third party care providers." The parties also
stipulated that the minor children should be enrolled in St.
Luke's Episcopal School for the school year commencing
the only issue that remained for the trial court to decide
was the designation of the domiciliary parent. After
consideration of the evidence and testimony of the witnesses,
the trial court rendered judgment designating Scott as the
domiciliary parent. On February 28, 2019, the trial court
signed a judgment that included the stipulations of the
parties as well as the trial court's designation of Scott
as domiciliary parent. It is from this judgment that Remy
first assignment of error, Remy contends that the trial court
committed legal error by applying the incorrect principles of
law to the modification of an existing custody decree.
Specifically, Remy argues that the trial court's failure
to determine whether a material change in circumstances has