Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Carpenter v. McDonald

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

November 15, 2019

JOHNATHAN HEATH CARPENTER
v.
ERIN MARIE McDONALD

          On Appeal from the 20th Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Feliciana State of Louisiana Trial Court No. 41, 308 Honorable Kathryn E. Jones, Judge Presiding

          Erin Marie McDonald Dubach, LA Appellant, In Proper Person

          Charles E. Griffin, II St. Francisville, LA Attorney for Appellee, Angela Biscomb

          BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, PENZATO, AND LANIER, JJ.

          HIGGINBOTHAM, J.

         In this child custody matter, the mother of the minor children, who are in the custody of their paternal grandmother, is appealing a judgment denying her motion to set visitation.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Jonathan Carpenter and Erin McDonald were married in 2004, and of the marriage, two children were born: A.T.C. born on December 19, 2006, and J.W.C. born on April 24, 2009. In 2011, divorce proceedings were instituted, and each parent sought sole custody of the children. A custody trial was held on September 12 and 26, 2011, after which the trial court awarded joint custody to Ms. McDonald and Mr. Carpenter, but expressed its opinion that neither party was suitable, and it would have preferred to award custody to a third party. Therefore, quickly after trial, Angela Biscomb, Mr. Carpenter's mother, sought custody of the children. Following a hearing on November 28, 2011, the trial court rendered judgment awarding Mrs. Biscomb sole custody of the children with each parent to have reasonable visitation. That judgment was affirmed by this court in Carpenter v. McDonald, 2012-1460 (La.App. 1st Cir. 2/13/13) 2013 WL 557020 (unpublished).

         In June 2014, Mrs. Biscomb filed a motion to transfer custody of the children to Mr. Carpenter, and Ms. McDonald intervened in those proceedings. After a hearing on August 11, 2014, Mr. Carpenter and Ms. McDonald were awarded joint custody of the children. However, shortly after the hearing, Mrs. Biscomb filed a petition to intervene for custody requesting that she again be awarded sole custody of the children. In her petition, Mrs. Biscomb set forth several allegations against Mr. Carpenter and Ms. McDonald and stated that she believed that the children were in danger. Specifically, Mrs. Biscomb alleged that within weeks of the trial court's ruling, Mr. Carpenter brought the children back to live with her, he never enrolled them in school, and the children were fearful of him. Further, she alleged that while she was sleeping, Mr. Carpenter took the children from her home, and he brought them to Ms. McDonald who would not allow Mrs. Biscomb to have any contact with the children. In a judgment signed on April 20, 2015, Mrs. Biscomb was again awarded sole custody of the children with reasonable supervised visitation for Mr. Carpenter and Ms. McDonald.

         On January 26, 2017, Mrs. Biscomb filed a motion to modify the April 20, 2015 judgment. In her motion, Mrs. Biscomb sought a temporary and permanent injunction preventing Mr. Carpenter and Ms. McDonald from harming, harassing, contacting, or stalking herself, her husband or the children. She also requested that their parental rights be terminated or in the alternative, that Mr. Carpenter and Ms. McDonald's supervised visitation be suspended until they complete a psychological evaluation and appropriate counseling. The trial court signed a temporary restraining order that day. After the hearing on Mrs. Biscomb's motion, the trial court signed a judgment on April 10, 2017, which granted an injunction prohibiting Mr. Carpenter and Ms. McDonald from harming, harassing, contacting, or stalking Mrs. Biscomb, her husband or the children. The judgment also suspended all visitation and contact between Ms. McDonald and the children until she completed "a complete psychological evaluation with a licensed family psychologist and completed whatever treatment and counseling is recommended by that physician." Additionally, the judgment required Ms. McDonald to prove a material change in circumstances before any contact or visitation with the children is set in her favor.

         After the hearing, Ms. McDonald filed a notice of intention to file for supervisory writs, which this court granted for the limited purpose of remanding this matter to the trial court with instructions to grant Ms. McDonald an appeal of the April 10, 2017 judgment. Ms. McDonald's motion and order to appeal the April 10, 2017 judgment was fax-filed on November 7, 2017, however, the record does not contain the original as required by La. R.S. 13:850(B), and the motion was not signed. On June 3, 2017, the trial court signed an order pursuant to the April 10, 2017 judgment, stating that "Dr. [Charles] Burchell is approved by the court to submit findings, reports or recommendations, from a completed complete psychological evaluation or treatment of [Ms.] McDonald."

         Thereafter, on June 1, 2018, Ms. McDonald filed a rule to set visitation stating that she had completed a psychological evaluation as well as treatment and requesting that she be awarded visitation with her children. In response, Mrs. Biscomb filed a motion to dismiss Ms. McDonald's rule and a motion for sanctions contending that Ms. McDonald's action was premature because she failed to comply with the April 10, 2017 judgment and June 3, 2017 order, which required a complete psychological evaluation by Dr. Burchell in order for her to seek visitation. Ms. McDonald's rule came before the trial court on April 1, 2019. On that day, the trial court rendered judgment dismissing Ms. McDonald's rule for visitation and denying Mrs. Biscomb's request for sanctions.

         On May 13, 2019, Ms. McDonald filed a notice and order of appeal seeking an appeal from several judgments of the trial court including judgments from January 26, 2017, April 10, 2017, November 21, 2018[1] and April 1, 2019. However, in the order for appeal, the trial court struck through each judgment other than Ms. McDonald's request to appeal the judgment rendered on April 1, 2019.[2]

         Subsequently, Ms. McDonald also filed a writ application with this court on July 15, 2019, contending that the trial court erred in restricting her appeal to the April 1, 2019 judgment. On September 3, 2019, a panel of this court referred Ms. McDonald's writ application to this panel ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.