The 12 factors in La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 131(D) to be considered in awarding domiciliary custody are: a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child. b) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his religion or creed, if any. c) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs. d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity. e) The permanence as a family unit of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes. f) The moral fitness of the parties involved. g) The mental and physical health of the parties involved. h) The home, school, and community record of the child. i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference. j) The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent. k) The distance between the respective residences of the parties.
When the mother and father divorced domiciliary custody was granted to the mother. Subsequently, the district court awarded domiciliary custody to the father after learning that the mother intended to move out-of-state. The court reversed the judgment. Specifically, the court held that the district court erred in granting the father custody of the children solely on the basis that the mother planned to move out-of-state.
Did the court err by moving the custody to the father?
In applying the factors enumerated in La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 131(C)(2), the court found that it was in the best interests of the children to remain with their mother despite her plans to move out-of-state because she had been their primary, and at times sole, caregiver for their entire lives. Conversely, the court noted that the father had been absent a great deal due to his occupation and involvement in sporting events. Furthermore, the mother provided good reason for her intention to move out-of-state to be with her parents where she would otherwise be unable to support herself and her children. Finally, the court ordered that the father pay child support in the amount of $ 700 per month.