Justia Louisiana Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Family Law
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The issue in this case stemmed from the divorce action between Lange Allen and Susan Allen, for the partition of separately owned property, a 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser, and restitution of separate property. The parties entered in a matrimonial agreement establishing a regime of separation of property before their marriage. The vehicle at issue was acquired during their marriage. The Supreme Court granted this writ application to determine whether the family court divisions of the Twenty-Second Judicial District Court had subject matter jurisdiction over partition proceedings involving divorcing spouses’ separate property. Finding these courts had subject matter jurisdiction over those matters, the Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeal and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. View "Allen v. Allen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The issue before the Supreme Court centered on whether homeschooling of children born of the marriage was a factor the trial court could consider when awarding final support. The District Court found homeschooling was not a factor legally considered in the determination of final support. In a plurality opinion, the Court of Appeal affirmed. Upon review, the Supreme Court found the trial court was charged pursuant to La. Civ. Code art. 112 with considering all relevant factors in determining the amount and duration of final support, thus the homeschooling of children born of the marriage could be a relevant factor in the determination of such support. Therefore, the Court vacated the judgments of the lower courts as to this issue only and remanded the case to the District Court for further proceedings. View "Rhymes v. Rhymes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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Kerry Moseley and Derek Pociask were married and had two children. They separated ten years later, and shortly thereafter, were granted a divorce. But several months before the judgment of divorce, Moseley had another child. Pociask filed a petition to disavow paternity of the latest child. In her exception, Moseley argued that Pociask did not file his petition to disavow within a year of the child's birth. The district court overruled the exception. The parties entered a consent agreement whereby the DNA of the child was tested. The test results revealed Pociask was not the biological father. The district court granted Pociask's motion for summary judgment allowing him to disavow paternity of the child. The appellate court reversed, finding the disavowal action prescribed. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court concluded the appellate court erred in its analysis, reversed and reinstated the district court's judgment. View "Pociask v. Moseley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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Mother Misty Hernandez appealed a family court order denying her motion for permission to move to another state with the child she shared with Father Brandon Jenkins. Upon review of the family court matter, the Supreme Court concluded that the family court abused its discretion by failing to properly apply the proper legal standard with regard to Mother's motion and by denying it. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded the case for entry of judgment in favor of the Mother. View "Hernandez v. Jenkins" on Justia Law

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In this custody dispute, the trial court ordered a change in custody, finding the father satisfied the requirements of "Bergeron v. Bergeron" by establishing that any harm caused by a modification of a 2004 custody decree would be substantially outweighed by its advantages to the child. The trial court’s ruling was reversed by the court of appeal. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the correctness of the court of appeal’s ruling. Because the Court found no abuse of discretion by the trial court in modifying custody, it reversed the appellate court and reinstated the ruling of the trial court. View "Mulkey v. Mulkey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case centered on whether an alleged biological father could bring a wrongful death and survival action for his illegitimate child, where the father did not file a timely avowal action, but filed his wrongful death and survival petition to assert his paternity within the peremptive period of La. Civ. Code art. 198. In resolving this issue, the Court had to decide whether the filiation requirements of La. Civ. Code art. 198 applied to actions under La. Civ. Code arts. 2315.1 and 2315.2. Upon review, the Court concluded that while the alleged was required to file an avowal action in order to bring a wrongful death and survival action, under Louisiana’s fact-pleading system, his petition pled sufficient facts to state an avowal action. View "Udomeh v. Joseph" on Justia Law

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On May 29, 2009, Plaintiff Rose McCann filed a petition for divorce against Defendant Walter McCann in the Family Court. A judgment granting the divorce was later signed in early, 2010, leaving the identification, valuation, management, and partition of the community property as the remaining issues in the case. Plaintiff filed a petition for partition of community property, moving the court to appoint various experts to assist in the partition. The Family Court appointed real estate and financial experts to inventory and value the real estate, and determine the value of the remaining property. Thereafter, a “Notice of Filing of Succession” was filed, stating that Defendant's succession had been opened in the District Court under Probate. Plaintiff filed a motion to substitute the succession executrix the decedent's daughter, as the party defendant in the partition proceeding. The succession executrix filed a “Declinatory Exception of Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction and Motion to Transfer,” seeking to have the partition action transferred to the District Court. The Family Court overruled the exception, denied the motion to transfer, and signed a judgment substituting the executrix into the partition action as the defendant, in place of the deceased Defendant. The executrix unsuccessfully appealed the Family Court's decision. The Supreme Court granted Defendant executrix’s writ application and remanded the matter to the appellate court for briefing, argument and full opinion. On remand, the appellate court by a majority decision again denied the executrix' writ application. The issue now before the Supreme Court was the correctness of the lower courts’ rulings. Upon review, the Court concluded that the Family Court no longer had exclusive subject matter jurisdiction over the partition of community property when one of the former spouses died. Thus, the Family Court erred in overruling the Defendant executrix’s exception of lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "McCann v. McCann" on Justia Law

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Jason and Christy Gray were divorced in 2005, and pursuant to a consent judgment, the parties were awarded joint custody of their son Jayden. Mr. Gray was designated as the domiciliary parent. Mr. Gray gave notice of his intent to relocate with Jayden to Alabama to join his fiancée. Mrs. Gray objected to the relocation and sought to become the domiciliary parent. The trial court approved of Mr. Gray's relocation and denied Mrs. Gray's motion to modify custody. In Spring 2009, Mrs. Gray eventually moved to dismiss her appeal the Alabama move. Mr. Gray petitioned the court again for another move, this time to Kansas. Mrs. Gray objected to this second move. A new judge presided over the second relocation hearing and prohibited Mr. Gray from relocating Jayden to Kansas. The trial court determined that Mr. Gray did not meet his burden of proving the proposed relocation would have been in the best interest of the child. The court further found that Mrs. Gray had established a material change in circumstances warranting modification of custody based on the father's violation of an ex parte order by moving the child to Kansas without court approval. Alternatively, the court found that Mrs. Gray had satisfied her burden of proof to merit a change in domiciliary custody. The appellate court reversed these decisions, concluding the trial court abused its discretion in denying the relocation and modifying custody. Upon careful consideration of the trial record, the Supreme Court agreed with the appellate court. The Court held that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the domiciliary parent's request to relocate. The Court remanded the case back to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Gray v. Gray" on Justia Law

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Robert Gathen filed for divorce from his wife Vanessa in 2005. At the time, the couple had two children, one of which had been born in the State of Louisiana. The couple was granted joint custody, but Mrs. Gathen was the domiciliary parent. Over the course of three years, Mrs. Gathen requested for leave to move to Washington State with the children, and each time, the court denied her requests. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Mrs. Gathen argued that the trial court did not perform a thorough analysis of the family's circumstances to make its determinations. The Court found that while state law mandated that the trial court consider all factors listed in the code to make its determination for relocation, it is not an error of law that warrants appellate court review. The Court affirmed the trial court's decision to deny Mrs. Gathen's relocation requests.