Aguillard v. Aguillard, 070820 LACA3, 19-757

Docket Nº19-757
Opinion JudgeJONATHAN W. PERRY, JUDGE
Party NameKAITLYN LEBOUEF AGUILLARD v. CALEB K. AGUILLARD
AttorneyCaleb K. Aguillard In Proper Person DEFENDANT/APPELLANT Jack Derrick Miller Post Office Drawer COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Caleb K. Aguillard Dyan Schnaars COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Kaitlyn LeBouef Geralyn Siefker COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Kaitlyn LeBouef
Judge PanelCourt composed of John E. Conery, D. Kent Savoie, and Jonathan W. Perry, Judges.
Case DateJuly 08, 2020
CourtCourt of Appeals of Louisiana

KAITLYN LEBOUEF AGUILLARD

v.

CALEB K. AGUILLARD

No. 19-757

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

July 8, 2020

APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-SEVENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ST. LANDRY, NO. 18-C-5082-A HONORABLE JAMES P. DOHERTY, JR., DISTRICT JUDGE

Caleb K. Aguillard In Proper Person DEFENDANT/APPELLANT

Jack Derrick Miller Post Office Drawer COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Caleb K. Aguillard

Dyan Schnaars COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Kaitlyn LeBouef

Geralyn Siefker COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Kaitlyn LeBouef

Court composed of John E. Conery, D. Kent Savoie, and Jonathan W. Perry, Judges.

JONATHAN W. PERRY, JUDGE

This case arises from the Domestic Abuse Assistance Act found in La.R.S. 46:2131 to La.R.S. 46:2143. Caleb K. Aguillard appeals a judgment of the trial court granting a protective order to his former spouse, Kaitlyn LeBouef. For the following reasons, we affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Kaitlyn LeBouef (LeBouef)1 and Caleb K. Aguillard (Aguillard)2 were married in February 2017 and had one child, J.F.A., 3 born on September 26, 2017. On November 16, 2018, LeBouef filed for divorce under La.Civ.Code art. 102.4 In her petition, LeBouef requested the parties be awarded joint custody of the child with her being designated as the domiciliary parent and with Aguillard having reasonable supervised visitation pending completion of a hair-follicle drug screening and evaluation for substance abuse. LeBouef also sought child support, exclusive use of the family home, and other incidental requests.

Aguillard filed an answer and reconventional demand on December 4, 2018, requesting the parties be awarded joint custody of the child with him having frequent visitation. In addition to other incidental requests, Aguillard sought exclusive use of the family home; interim spousal support; issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) prohibiting LeBouef from alienating any community assets, borrowing against or changing beneficiaries of life insurance policies, and cancelling existing health, hospitalization, and automobile insurance policies; and issuance of a TRO against LeBouef pursuant to La.R.S. 9:372.1, prohibiting harassment through direct or indirect contact with Aguillard's family or former family members.

On December 17, 2018, the parties appeared before a hearing officer who recommended, in pertinent part: the parties have joint custody of the child with LeBouef being the domiciliary parent and with Aguillard having supervised visitation pending a hair-follicle drug screening; LeBouef have exclusive use of the family home; Aguillard pay $280 per month in child support; the parties attend parenting classes; and reciprocal TROs to stop harassment. Both parties objected to the hearing officer's recommendations.

On December 26, 2018, Aguillard filed a Rule for Contempt against LeBouef. Aguillard alleged LeBouef refused to allow him to have unsupervised visitation with J.F.A. after Aguillard's hair-follicle drug screening was negative for narcotics. According to the trial court's minutes and an Order on Rule signed on January 29, 2019, a pre-trial conference was held on Aguillard's Rule for Contempt on January 11, 2019. Trial on the issues of interim spousal support, child support, and child custody was set for April 17, 2019. The trial court's order further specified Aguillard remained subject to random hair-follicle drug screenings to be set at the court's discretion, and the reciprocal TROs remained in effect.

Aguillard filed a Petition to Enforce Settlement Agreement and Compromise on February 11, 2019. He sought to enforce certain terms concerning custody, visitation, interim spousal support, drug screenings, and child support, to which he alleged LeBouef had agreed.

The record reflects the parties signed a Consent Judgment on March 1, 2019, settling the issues concerning the use of the family home, child support, interim spousal support, and separation of community property. On March 6, 2019, the parties also entered into a Stipulated Joint Custody Implementation Plan and a Community Property Partition Agreement, and a Judgment of Partition was signed by the trial court.

On March 22, 2019, Aguillard filed a Motion for Injunctive Relief and Rule for Contempt pursuant to La.Code Civ.P. arts. 3601-3613. Aguillard alleged LeBouef abused A.E.A. and N.K.A., his children from a prior marriage, while he was away from the family home undergoing inpatient rehabilitation from August 4, 2018 to November 12, 2018. The parties appeared before a hearing officer on May 2, 2019. The hearing officer recommended denial of Aguillard's motion. Aguillard filed an objection. Aguillard also requested a Watermeier hearing.5

After the hearing officer conference on May 2, 2019, LeBouef filed a Petition for Protection from Abuse pursuant to La.R.S. 46:2131-2143, charging Aguillard with domestic abuse. LeBouef alleged physical abuse, sexual abuse, stalking on social media, and verbal intimidations, which included Aguillard threatening he would accuse LeBouef of physically abusing A.E.A. and N.K.A. LeBouef was granted an ex parte TRO and the matter was scheduled for conference before a hearing officer. See La.R.S. 46:2135(A) and (I). After Aguillard was ordered to show cause why the TRO should not be converted to a protective order, he obtained an order to forego a hearing before a hearing officer.

On May 20, 2019, Aguillard filed a First Amending Petition and Supplemental Petition for Divorce Pursuant to La.Civ.Code art. 103(4), 6 or Alternatively Pursuant to La.Civ.Code art. 103(5).7 Aguillard's petition alleged that following a Watermeier hearing, which was held on May 17, 2019, the trial court granted his Motion for Injunctive Relief pursuant to La.Code Civ.P. arts. 3601-3613. Thus, Aguillard sought a judgment of divorce on the basis the trial court found LeBouef had abused A.E.A. and N.K.A.

Speaking to Aguillard's petition for divorce, on May 28, 2019, the trial court filed into the record a transcript of its oral ruling on May 17, 2019, Written Reasons for Judgment, and a concomitant Order. The trial court's Written Reasons for Judgment express, in relevant part: [T]he Court did not comment or make any findings as to the allegations of abuse of the children as presented in evidence and the Court's reason for doing so was purposeful. Specifically, the Court has ruled, and does reiterate and re-enforce its holding, on the Code of Civil Procedure Article 3601 Injunction that was issued herein restraining and enjoining and prohibiting [LeBouef] from approaching the minor children of [Aguillard] or contacting them either directly or indirectly and from further publishing any photographs of them on social media for public viewing based upon the fact that [LeBouef] is not the parent of these two minor children and has no legal rights when it comes to custody, visitation, or contact with the children and it was the specific request, intent and plea of the father that his children have no contact with [LeBouef]. The Court is of the opinion that there was sufficient grounds in which to rule on the injunction without the necessity of making factual findings on the allegations of abuse. Furthermore, the Court is not satisfied that the testimony of abuse made by the two children was sufficient for the Court to grant the injunction on the grounds of abuse and those grounds only. The Court is of the opinion that in order to make a finding of abuse of the children, additional corroborating evidence would have to be presented. Furthermore, the Court notes that in making his request for no contact between [LeBouef] and the two minor children of [Aguillard], on several occasions, testified that his concern with [LeBouef] disciplining his children while they were in a relationship had more to do with the consequences or issues that may arise from said discipline being raised by the natural mother of the two minor children and it was not until after the separation of the parties that defendant became concerned with the method or extent of the discipline of his children by their step-mother. Furthermore, the Court notes that there is a fine line between disciplining a child and abusing a child and as the Court stated above, to make a finding of abuse additional evidence would be required.

Following the issuance of the trial court's reasons, Aguillard dismissed his petition for divorce on the alternative grounds of La.Civ.Code art. 103(5).

Trial on LeBouef's Petition for Protection from Abuse was held on June 28, 2019. During trial, LeBouef presented testimony from her father, Bernard LeBouef; two officers from the Eunice Police Department, Lieutenant Michael Dunn and Officer Jack Ardoin; and licensed social worker, Jennifer Glasscock.

Lieutenant Michael Dunn worked with Aguillard at the Eunice Police Department. Lieutenant Dunn testified he never personally witnessed Aguillard threaten LeBouef, nor did he recall ever being contacted by LeBouef to report Aguillard being violent or threatening violence.

On cross-examination, Lieutenant Dunn was asked whether he trusted Aguillard when they worked together on a daily basis to carry a loaded firearm. Lieutenant Dunn answered, "Up to a certain point[.]"

On re-direct examination, Lieutenant Dunn clarified his answer, testifying he did not fully trust Aguillard because of a theft that occurred and his opinion Aguillard was intoxicated at work. Lieutenant Dunn approximated it was May 2018 when Aguillard allegedly stole prescription medication from his residence. He testified he heard Aguillard was told to voluntarily resign from the Eunice Police Department in lieu of criminal charges.

Officer Jack Ardoin testified he also worked with Aguillard...

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