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Thomas v. Duhon

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

November 6, 2019

DERRELL THOMAS
v.
JADE LASHA DUHON

          APPEAL FROM THE THIRTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF EVANGELINE, NO. 77865-B HONORABLE CHUCK RANDALL WEST, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Justin Bo West COUNSEL FOR: Plaintiff/Appellee - Derrell Thomas

          Curtis L. Guillory COUNSEL FOR: Defendant/Appellant - Jade Lasha Duhon

          Court composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Phyllis M. Keaty, and D. Kent Savoie, Judges.

          ULYSSES GENE THIBODEAUX CHIEF JUDGE.

         In this custody dispute, the mother, Jade Lasha Duhon, appeals the judgment of the trial court awarding the parties with joint custody of their two minor children and designating the father, Derrell Thomas, as the domiciliary parent. Finding no abuse of discretion by the trial court, we affirm.

         I.

         ISSUES

         We must decide whether the trial court abused its discretion in determining the best interest of the children and awarding domiciliary custody of the minor children to their father, Derrell Thomas, rather than their mother, Jade Lasha Duhon.

         II.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Mr. Thomas and Ms. Duhon were in a serious relationship and lived together in Mamou, Louisiana for several years. The two never married. During their relationship, the parties had two children together, Derrell Thomas Jr. (age 6) and Janelle Lasha Thomas (age 5). Following allegations of Mr. Thomas's infidelity, the couple decided to end their relationship. Prior to Ms. Duhon moving out in September 2018, the couple agreed that Ms. Duhon would take the children with her to Lake Charles, Mr. Thomas would have alternating weekend visitation, and Mr. Thomas would pay monthly child support in the amount of $500. This agreement proved unworkable for the parties.

         On November 2, 2018, Mr. Thomas filed a petition for an ex parte order of temporary custody which was granted on November 5, 2018. Prior to this, Ms. Duhon met with a caseworker in Lake Charles to file a child support claim, and informed Mr. Thomas he would be receiving "some papers." Ms. Duhon was assigned an attorney who filed her claim on November 15, 2018. On December 17, 2018, the parties were granted interim joint custody, with Mr. Thomas having interim domiciliary custody. After a two-day trial, on February 5, 2019, the trial court granted the parties joint custody of the children. Mr. Thomas was named the domiciliary parent, and Ms. Duhon was granted visitation. Ms. Duhon has appealed.

         III.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         It is well established by the jurisprudence of this state that the standard of review in child custody cases is an abuse of discretion.

The trial court is in a better position to evaluate the best interest of the child from its observances of the parties and witnesses; thus, a trial court's determination in a child custody case is entitled to great weight on appeal and will ...

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