Tracie F. v. Francisco D.Annotate this Case
"Grappling with whether a child should be moved from what is oftentimes perceived as the stable and long-standing environment provided by a non-parent who has been awarded custody as a domiciliary parent, the appellate courts have developed different approaches for evaluating the request of a biological parent to be awarded domiciliary parent status." This matter involved a custody dispute between the biological father and the maternal grandmother, who was designated as the domiciliary parent in a consent decree. Because of conflicting analysis of this issue by the courts of appeal, the Louisiana Supreme Court granted a writ to determine the standard for adjudicating a request for increased custodial rights brought by a biological parent who shared joint custody with a grandparent, and the biological parent had earlier stipulated that the grandparent should be designated as having the rights and responsibilities of a domiciliary parent. Applying the "best-interest-of-the-child" standard, the Court found that in this case, the biological father satisfied the first element of proof in the best-interest analysis: there has been a material change in circumstances after the original custody award. However, the biological father failed to prove that a modification from the long-standing and stable environment the child had experienced while domiciled in the home of the grandparent would be in the child’s best interest. The Court ultimately affirmed the appellate court's judgment to maintain the joint custody arrangement with the grandparent as domiciliary parent.