FROM THE THIRTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
EVANGELINE, NO. 77865-B HONORABLE CHUCK RANDALL WEST,
Bo West COUNSEL FOR: Plaintiff/Appellee - Derrell Thomas
L. Guillory COUNSEL FOR: Defendant/Appellant - Jade Lasha
composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Phyllis M.
Keaty, and D. Kent Savoie, Judges.
ULYSSES GENE THIBODEAUX CHIEF JUDGE.
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.
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.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
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.
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.
well established by the jurisprudence of this state that the
standard of review in child custody cases is an abuse of
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