Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Friday, October 28, 2005

Case Law Development: Alternating Year Custody Arrangement Not in Best Interest of 8-year-old Child

Upon parent's divorce, Mother was named domiciliary parent of their five-month-old child, with Father having specified visitation. Both parents re-married. Mother moved from the state to follow her new husband's job change. Upon Mother's second move, Father asked the court to modify custody to declare him the domiciliary parent.

The trial court, finding both parents to be competent, caring and effective, decided to order an "experimental" custody arrangement as an "equitable solution." The child's domicile was to change each July 1st, alternating between Mother and Father.

The Louisiana Court of Appeals held that Mother's move was not a material change in circumstances warranting the change in custody since the move did not locate her a substantially greater distance from Father than she had been before and there was no evidence that the child had been harmed by the move. Even were it a change of circumstances, the court held that the alternating year custody arrangement was not in the best interests of the child, given "the potential disruptive effect upon the child, the lack of stability, and the potential educational calamity of changing schools."

Colvin v. Colvin, 2005 La. App. LEXIS 2260 (October 26, 2005)

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