Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Hodges v. Hodges

By
The Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari in this child custody matter to review the designation of both parents as “co-domiciliary parents,” a designation which divided the courts of appeal. Both the father and the mother sought joint custody of the minor child, M.H., as well as to be designated as the child’s domiciliary parent. After a hearing, the trial court granted joint custody to the parents, ordered equal physical custody to be alternated weekly, and designated both parties as “co-domiciliary parents.” The mother appealed, contending that designation of both parents as “co-domiciliary parents” was not authorized by La. R.S. 9:335. She sought to be named as the sole domiciliary parent. The appellate court affirmed the “co-domiciliary” designation, but ruled that no valid joint custody implementation order had been rendered, and remanded the case to the trial court “for the entry of a joint custody implementation order allocating the legal authority and responsibility of the parents with regard to the health, education, and welfare of the child.” On appeal to the Supreme Court, the mother argued that the trial court’s judgment was insufficient to constitute a joint custody implementation order. According to the mother, the judgment addresses physical custody, but failed to designate which parent has decision-making authority for the child. The mother urges that under La. R.S. 9:335, there can only be one domiciliary parent. Read as a whole, the Court concluded the plain language of La. R.S. 9:335 manifested the legislature’s clear intent to establish a custodial system in which a child has a domiciliary parent and no more than one such parent. “The text is clear.” The case was remanded to the trial court for a prompt hearing and determination on how joint custody should be implemented, consistent with the Court’s opinion excluding the possibility of designating both parents as “co-domiciliary.” View "Hodges v. Hodges" on Justia Law