We granted this writ application to determine the appropriate standard of review of a trial court's decision in a child relocation case, where the trial court does not expressly analyze each factor under La. R.S. 9:355.12 in determining whether relocation is in the best interest of the child. After review of the record and the applicable law, we find that while La. R.S. 9:355.12 mandates that the trial court consider all twelve factors listed in La. R.S. 9:355.12, its failure to expressly analyze each factor in its written or oral reasons does not constitute an error of law such that de novo review is appropriate. Where the trial court has considered the factors listed under La. R.S. 9:355.12 in determining whether relocation is in the best interest of the child or children, this determination is reviewed for abuse of discretion. In this case, the court of appeal erred in reviewing the case de novo. Utilizing the correct standard, we see no abuse of discretion in the trial court's decision to deny the mother's relocation request. Therefore, we reverse the judgment of the court of appeal and reinstate the trial court's judgment denying relocation.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Robert Gathen ("Robert") and Vanessa K. Gathen ("Vanessa") met in the state of Washington while Robert was serving in the U.S. Navy. On January 6, 1996, they were married in California where their first child, Andru, was born on August 3, 1997. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Thibodaux, Louisiana, where Robert's family resided. Their second child, Evan, was born there on March 3, 2002. On August 5, 2005, Robert filed a petition for divorce and on October 11, 2005, a consent judgment awarded joint custody of the children with Vanessa designated as the domiciliary parent subject to Robert's reasonable visitation. A joint implementation plan detailing the custodial arrangements was never filed. Vanessa was awarded monthly child support of $1,320.00 and was granted possession and use of the family home with Robert paying the house note.
On January 18, 2006, Vanessa notified Robert of her desire to relocate with the children to Puyallup, Washington. Robert objected and the trial court denied her relocation request in March of 2006.
In March 2009, Vanessa told Robert that she intended to relocate with the children to Puyallup, Washington, and Robert initially acquiesced. However, after Vanessa filed the required written notice on March 25, 2009, Robert filed an objection to the relocation on April 24, 2009. Subsequently, on May 22, 2009, Vanessa filed a rule seeking past-due child support in the amount of $14,900.00, an income assignment, a contempt of court ruling against Robert, attorney fees, and costs.
The trial court considered the relocation request on June 30, August 6, and August 21, 2009. The evidence presented showed that Vanessa had been the primary caregiver, and that Robert worked offshore every other seven days and had physical custody of the boys twice a month for a weekend. Vanessa testified that she lived in the state of Washington with her parents from first grade until fifth grade, returned for her sophomore year of high school to live with her sister, and returned there after high school graduation, from 1993-1995, at which time she moved with Robert to San Diego. She testified that one reason she wanted to return to Washington was to be with her family, which includes her sister and two children, and her aunt. Her mother lives in Hawaii to care for her aging grandmother, but visits Washington often and plans to relocate there. Vanessa planned to live with the boys in the bottom floor of her sister's house rent-free, which includes a living area, two bedrooms, and a full bath. In addition, the oldest child was becoming too old for after-school care, and in Washington, her aunt and sister could pick the children up after school and help her with day care until she finished work. Vanessa presented evidence that she made $10.17 per hour working as an administrative assistant for Nicholls State University, but because of budget cuts she would not receive a merit pay increase, and, Nicholls was instituting a 6 and ½ day furlough, which would decrease her annual income. She testified that a friend in Washington had offered her a job with an orthodontic lab for $15.00 per hour, which would require her to perform the same general duties she performs at Nicholls, and work with study models for various orthodontic offices in the area. Because she would be living rent-free and have an increased salary, she would be much better able to provide for her children. Vanessa testified she has no support system in Louisiana and wants to return to Washington to be with her family and to have her sons be with her family.
Robert argued that the requested relocation is for essentially the same reasons as the 2006 relocation request which was denied, except that now she has been offered a job that pays more money. He testified that his sons have lived their entire lives in Thibodaux, that they have a strong connection to his family, their
After hearing the testimony, the judge denied the relocation request with the following oral reasons:
With two judges dissenting, a five-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeal reversed, finding that a de novo review of the record was necessary because the trial judge "did not articulate its best-interest determination utilizing each of the statutorily-required factors set forth in La. R.S. 9:355.12, factor by factor." Gathen v. Gathen, 10-0439, p. 7, 46 So.3d 283, 2010 WL 4151880 (La.App. 1 Cir. 9/15/10) (unpublished). Utilizing a de novo standard of review, the court of appeal allowed relocation finding that "factors 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 and 11 weigh in favor of Vanessa and the remaining factors favor neither party." Id. at p. 16. Further, even under the manifest error standard of review, the court of appeal found the trial court abused its discretion in denying relocation because "mindful of the express statements about the evidence relative to the statutory factors, we cannot say that the evidence as a whole preponderated in favor of the reasonableness of the trial court's decision." Id. at p. 17. We granted Robert's writ application to determine whether La. R.S. 9:355.12 requires that a trial court expressly analyze each of the listed factors in oral or written reasons in making a relocation determination; and, if it does not, to determine the appropriate standard of review. Gathen v. Gathen, 10-2312, 49 So.3d 875, 2010 WL 4940049 (La.11/12/10).
A divorced parent seeking to relocate with his or her children to another state bears the following burden of proof:
La. R.S. 9:355.13. In determining the best interest of the children, La. R.S. 9:355.12 lists the following factors to be considered:
In Curole v. Curole, 02-1891 (La.10/15/02), 828 So.2d 1094, we first discussed the burden of proof in a relocation case.
After listing the factors provided in La. R.S. 9:355.12, we stated "[t]his statute mandates that all of the factors set forth be considered by the court." Id. at 1097. "It does not, however, direct the court to give preferential consideration to certain factors." Id. Finally, Curole set forth the appropriate standard of review as follows: "[a] trial court's determination in a relocation matter is entitled to great weight and will not be overturned on appeal absent a clear showing of abuse of discretion." Id. at 1096.
Based on our review of the law, we find that the trial court is not required to expressly analyze each factor in its oral or written reasons for judgment in a relocation case. Not only does La. R.S. 9:355.12 not expressly require it, but a trial court is never required to give oral reasons and is not required to give written reasons for its "findings of fact and reasons for judgment" unless requested by a party in most types of non-jury cases. La. C.C.P. art. 1917. Had either party desired the trial court's findings of fact and reasons to be in writing, they could have asked. Further, if the legislature had intended the trial court to expressly analyze each and every factor in either oral or written reasons, it could have provided so. Consequently, we find the trial court's failure to expressly analyze each factor does not constitute an error of law that would allow de novo review. See Evans v. Lungrin, 97-541 (La.2/6/98), 708 So.2d 731, 735 (where one or more legal errors interdict the fact-finding process, if the record is complete the court of appeal must conduct a de novo review of the record). The appropriate standard of review, as stated in Curole, is that the trial court's relocation determination is entitled to great weight and will not be overturned absent a clear showing of abuse of discretion.
As stated earlier, a relocating parent must prove that the move is in good faith and in the best interest of the child or children. La. R.S. 9:355.13. There is no dispute that Vanessa proved her proposed relocation was in good faith. She testified that she wished to move to Washington to be closer to her family and to pursue an employment opportunity and housing situation that would be beneficial to her. Although Robert claimed the move was not made in good faith in opposing the relocation, he presented no evidence that the relocation request was not made in good faith.
Secondly, the court must determine whether relocation would be in the best interest of the children considering the twelve factors enumerated in La. R.S. 9:355.12. In this case, it is significant that this same trial judge considered and denied a relocation request from Vanessa just three years earlier and most of the facts supporting the relocation were the same. Inevitably, the trial judge was cognizant of the considerations he made in 2006. Thus, regarding the facts that remain the same in 2006 and 2009, we will take into account the considerations he made in 2006 in reviewing his decision to deny relocation.
The first factor the court must consider is the nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child's relationship with the parent proposing to relocate and with the nonrelocating parent, siblings, and other significant persons in the children's lives. The trial judge was well aware of the custody arrangement between the parents and knew the mother was the primary caretaker. He found that the children's involvement with their father's relatives in Thibodaux was substantial, while their involvement with their mother's relatives in Washington was "limited."
The second factor is the age, developmental stage, needs, and likely impact the relocation would have on the child's physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into account any special needs of the child. In his 2006 reasons, the trial judge considered that Andru had been attending school for three years, was doing well there and had developed a circle of friends at the school that would end if her were to relocate. In its 2009 reasons, he recognized that there would be a problem with daycare for Andru if they were to remain in Louisiana which would be solved by a move to Washington. However,
Third, the court must consider the feasibility of preserving a good relationship between the nonrelocating parent and the child through suitable visitation arrangements, considering the logistics and financial circumstances. The trial judge found the move would "limit their relationship with their father due to the great distance between the State of Louisiana and the State of Washington." In 2006, he also considered the fact that Vanessa was offering extensive summertime visitation for Robert, just as she is now, but found that the use of visitation to maintain Robert's relationship with the children was not very feasible.
The fourth factor is the child's preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child. Although there was testimony that Andru wanted to move to Washington, the trial judge decided not to give "any significant weight to the determination of an eleven year old child as to what is in his best interest." This was within his discretion.
Fifth, the court must consider whether there is an established pattern of conduct of the parent seeking the relocation, either to promote or thwart the relationship of the child and the nonrelocating party. The testimony was consistent that the mother was very accommodating to Robert regarding visitation and Robert never disputed this. In the 2006 oral reasons, the trial judge commended Vanessa for continuing to allow the children to attend gatherings with Robert's family every Friday and Sunday even after they had separated.
Sixth, the court must consider whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for both the custodial parent seeking the relocation and the children, including but not limited to financial or emotional benefit or educational opportunity. While the trial judge did not find any emotional or educational benefit to the relocation, he recognized that she had been offered a job at a dental lab with an increase in income and that her current employer was scheduled to impose a work furlough and a pay increase freeze. He also recognized that she would be relieved of paying day care expenses. This is one significant situation that changed since 2006, when she did not have a firm job offer in Washington and the trial judge found their quality of life would be the same in both Washington and Louisiana. While the trial judge could have discussed the other ways in which Vanessa and the children would financially benefit from the move, i.e., she would no longer be paying a mortgage and thus would have the entire $1,320.00 for child support, the trial judge did recognize and consider that Vanessa and the children would financially benefit from the move.
Seventh, the court must consider the reasons of each parent for seeking or opposing the relocation. As stated earlier, the trial judge recognized Vanessa's reasons early in the oral reasons, apparently in an effort to consider whether the relocation request was in good faith. The trial judge also considered that Robert opposed the relocation because it would limit his contact and his family's contact with the children, and remove them from the community they have known all their lives.
Ninth, the court must consider the extent to which the objecting parent has fulfilled his or her financial obligations to the parent seeking relocation, including child support, spousal support, and community property obligations. While the trial judge did not mention this factor in its oral reasons, Vanessa filed a rule seeking past-due child support payments, an income assignment, and a finding that Robert was in contempt of court for failure to pay child support. The trial judge issued judgments on both matters the same day, denying Vanessa's relocation request, but finding Robert in contempt of court for failure to pay child support and ordering him to pay $14,900 in arrearages along with interest, court costs, and attorney's fees. Thus, while the trial judge did not mention Robert's failure to fulfill his financial obligations in his oral reasons at the relocation hearing, these matters were essentially heard together and the trial court had to have considered this factor in his relocation decision. Undoubtedly, this factor weighs against Robert, but does not mandate that relocation be approved.
The tenth factor is the feasibility of a relocation by the objecting parent. As stated earlier, the trial judge determined in 2006 that it was not practical for Robert to relocate to Washington, given his job in Louisiana that provides the necessary income for the family to maintain their lifestyle. Robert maintains the same job as he did in 2006, thus this factor has not changed and the trial court has considered it.
The eleventh factor is any history of substance abuse or violence by either parent, including a consideration of the severity of such conduct and the failure or success of any attempts at rehabilitation. The trial judge did not make any determinations regarding this factor. The only evidence presented on this subject was Vanessa's testimony that Robert told her he became intoxicated at a friend's house after a family dinner and could not remember how he arrived home with the boys. While serious, this isolated incident does not constitute a "history or substance abuse or violence."
The twelfth factor directs the court to consider any other factors affecting the best interest of the child. This catch-all provision basically supports the "best interest of the child" focus in relocation cases and allows the trial court to consider any other factor that affects the best interest of the child, even if not listed. Here, the trial judge did not expressly consider any other factors.
Based on a thorough review of the record, we cannot say that the trial judge abused his discretion in denying the relocation request. The trial judge expressly analyzed the factors he felt were most decisive, and ultimately determined, as he did in 2006, that relocation was not in the
While La. R.S. 9:355.12 requires the trial court to consider twelve factors in determining whether a relocation is in the best interest of the child, the trial court is not required to expressly analyze each factor in its oral or written reasons and its failure to do so does not constitute an error of law allowing de novo review. Here, it can be gleaned from the record as a whole that the trial judge followed the law in reaching his ultimate determination, and his decision cannot be overturned because there was no abuse of discretion.
For the reasons stated herein, the judgment of the court of appeal is reversed and the judgment of the trial court is reinstated.
JOHNSON, J., dissents and assigns reasons.
KNOLL, J., dissents with reasons.
JOHNSON, Justice, dissents.
I respectfully dissent from the majority opinion, which finds no abuse of the trial court's discretion in denying Vanessa Gathen's relocation request.
In deciding what serves the best interests of these two children, the majority of this Court has adopted the parochial attitude that because Andru and Evan have resided predominantly within the State of Louisiana, they would be adversely impacted if they relocate. The majority focuses on the boys' close ties to the father's extended family, friends and school. In my view, the majority overemphasizes these factors, and fails to give sufficient weight to the boys' parental relationships and resulting benefits from relocation. The father, who opposed relocation, is not the primary caretaker of these boys, and spends only a few days a month with his sons. Thus, the practical effect of denying the mother's relocation request in this case does not so much preserve a close father-child relationship, but only serves to force the primary caretaker (the mother) to stay in Louisiana to care for these children.
The mother has unquestionably demonstrated that the family would benefit financially with this move. And, I have no doubt the schools in Washington state are as good as those in Louisiana. Moreover, the record establishes that the mother has been the primary caretaker of these boys. Rather than focusing on each parent's relationship to the boys, the majority, like the trial court, places too much emphasis on the boys' relationship with the father's extended family. In so doing, I find the majority opinion violates the spirit of the Supreme Court's decision in Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 120 S.Ct. 2054, 147 L.Ed.2d 49 (2000). In Troxel, paternal grandparents, following the death of their son, filed suit to obtain increased court ordered visitation with their grandchildren pursuant to a Washington statute. Troxel, 530 U.S. at 60-61, 120 S.Ct. 2054. The mother, Granville, believed the amount of visitation sought by the grandparents was excessive. Id. In a plurality opinion, the Court held that the Washington state statute, which essentially allowed any person to be awarded visitation at any time if the court determined it would be in the children's best interest, to be unconstitutional as applied to the facts of the case. The Court reasoned that the trial court, in
Further, the majority does not fully take into account certain of the father's actions that have necessarily negatively impacted his children. While the father opposed the mother's relocation request, he was also cast in contempt for failure to pay child support, and found to be $14,900 in arrears. In addition to not fulfilling his financial obligations to his children, he also failed to fully take advantage of his available visitation with his sons. The record establishes that while the mother has agreed to virtually all of the father's visitation requests, the father has routinely limited his monthly physical custody of his sons to only four of the fourteen days he is off of work and at home from his job offshore.
Finally, even considering extended family relationships in this case, extended family support is not limited to Lafourche Parish. The record reflects the mother and boys would be living with their maternal aunt in Washington, and would be able to have frequents visits with their maternal grandmother, who lives in Hawaii. The move to Washington state would allow the boys to further develop relationships with their maternal grandmother, aunt and cousins. I see no reason why Andru and Evan should not have the same opportunity to bond with their maternal extended family.
KNOLL, J., dissents.
There are several important aspects of this parental relocation case that I feel the majority opinion either inappropriately glossed over as unimportant or failed to consider, which prompts me to dissent with all due respect.
As an initial matter, I disagree with the majority's characterization of the burden of proof which the relocating parent must meet. La.Rev.Stat. § 9:355.13 states that the "relocating parent has the burden of proof that the proposed relocation is made in good faith and is in the best interest of the child." Although we examined this statute in Curole v. Curole, 02-1891 (La.10/15/02), 828 So.2d 1094, we did not address whether the moving parent's burden was simple preponderance of the evidence or a heightened standard such as clear and convincing evidence. The majority opinion, however, claims that the relocating parent bears a "very heavy burden" to prove that relocation is in the best interest of the child. I disagree. Preponderance of the evidence is the usual standard in non-criminal cases, and neither La.Rev.Stat. § 9:355.13 nor this Court's prior jurisprudence support imposing a stricter standard for a motion to relocate.
I also disagree with the majority's treatment of the primary question before this Court, that is, whether a trial court judgment must explicitly address each one of the twelve factors set forth in La.Rev.Stat. § 9:355.12. I find the majority opinion creates ambiguous precedent—although it states a trial court is not required to examine each individual statutory factor set
Although I do not believe that a trial judge must go down the list of every factor, at the very least the trial court must make sufficient factual findings to allow for appellate review of those factors. Put otherwise, the factors must be applied in each case, even if they are not specifically enumerated. The legislature drafted twelve highly specific factors for a reason, and it must have intended courts to give due consideration to each factor. Here, the trial court failed to make adequate factual findings to support a finding as to each factor. Indeed, the record reflects the court all but ignored some highly relevant factors while giving undue weight to others.
In its oral reasons for judgment, the trial court gave undue weight to the factors favoring Robert and his extended family. The evidence is uncontroverted that the children's relationship with Vanessa is significantly closer than their relationship with Robert. The children lived with Vanessa the vast majority of the time and stayed with Robert every other weekend, or approximately four days a month. Vanessa was primarily responsible for raising the children during the marriage and remained the principal caretaker after the separation and divorce. Yet, as appropriately noted by the court of appeal, the "trial court did not make any reference to the nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the children's relationships with Vanessa."
Moreover, Robert did not take full advantage of the opportunities he did have to spend time with his children. Of the fourteen days a month Robert spends at home, he only takes his children for four days. Vanessa would have been willing to let Robert spend additional time with his children, but he never asked. After moving, Vanessa offered to let the children spend their summers in Thibodaux and to rotate major holidays in Louisiana. This arrangement would have given Robert roughly the same amount of time with his children as he currently spends. Given Robert's unwillingness to devote equal amounts of time to his children while he lives in Louisiana, I do not believe he should have a veto on them moving to Washington.
The trial court also gave disproportionate consideration to the children's relationship with their paternal grandmother and aunts. Although relationships with extended family are no doubt important, the primary focus must always be on the children's relationship with their parents and the children's best interest. The trial court seemed more concerned with the interests of the extended family than the interests of Vanessa and the children themselves.
Moreover, there are no grounds for favoring Robert's extended family over Vanessa's family. The record reflects Vanessa had a good relationship with her sister in Washington, and there is reason to believe the children will form equally beneficial relationships with their mother's family after the move.
The trial court also put great emphasis on the fact the children had lived in Louisiana for most of their lives and leaving Lafourche Parish would require changing schools and finding new friends. But this alone cannot be determinative. If it were, no motion for relocation would ever be granted. Neither party suggests the children would be unable to cope with starting at a new school or finding new friends. It appears both children were progressing well socially and in school and were looking forward to moving to Washington.
By far the most important factor in this case is the improvement in the children's standard of living that would result from moving to Washington. Vanessa is struggling to make ends meet. She makes just over $10 an hour as a secretary at Nicholls State University and is understandably concerned that budget cuts to higher education will lead to a long-term freeze in pay and that, eventually, cuts may have to be made. The university has already imposed one unpaid involuntary furlough. Given her meager income and the expenses of raising two boys, she pays her monthly living expenses by relying on student loans. This is obviously not a sustainable financial situation.
By moving to Washington, she would start a new job with an increased salary of $15 an hour, a house to live in rent-free, and free childcare assistance from her sister. In the long term, her mother had tentatively agreed to help her pay a down payment on a new house of her own. This is not an ancillary or minor benefit; it represents a marked increase in the standard of living for both Vanessa and the children. The statute clearly states a court must consider the "current employment and economic circumstances of each parent and whether or not the proposed relocation is necessary to improve the circumstances of the parent seeking relocation of the child." La.Rev.Stat. § 9:355.12(8). It is beyond dispute that moving to Washington would materially improve Vanessa's current employment and economic circumstances.
Perhaps most egregiously, the trial court did not consider the root cause of Vanessa's financial stress—Robert's ongoing nonpayment of child support. A consent judgment signed by both parties required Robert to pay $1,320 in child support per month.
Vanessa's rule on child support was originally set for hearing on June 30, 2009. The hearing, along with the hearing on the motion to relocate, was reset for August 9, 2009. When Robert's attorney withdrew from the case and new counsel substituted, the hearings were again reset for August 21, 2009. On August 21 the hearing on the motion for relocation ran long and the rule for child support was continued to September 1, 2009.
La.Rev.Stat. § 9:355.12(A)(9) states a trial court must consider the "extent to which the objecting parent has fulfilled his or her financial obligations to the parent seeking relocation, including child support, spousal support, and community property obligations." Because the court ruled on the motion to relocate first, it did not have the benefit of the evidence showing Robert's repeated failure to pay his child support obligations. Although the majority opinion claims the court "had to have considered this factor" in ruling on the motion to relocate, there is no evidence to support that speculation. Indeed, the trial court could not have considered this factor when ruling on the motion to relocate. At that point, all it had before it was Vanessa's allegations.
Robert's failure to pay his child support is directly relevant to his fitness as a parent and is highly relevant in any motion to relocate. Financially supporting your children is the first, fundamental obligation of parenthood. Civ.Code art. 227. In my opinion, by failing to meet his bare minimum obligation, Robert effectively lost his right to object when Vanessa sought to move to Washington to improve her financial position—a financial position which was caused in large part by Robert's failure to pay. Robert did not pay his child support, thereby sending his ex-wife and children into severe financial distress. He should not have veto power over her right to try to escape that predicament. The legislature obviously believes what it calls "deadbeat" parents are a serious problem—serious enough that Robert's failure to pay is a crime punishable by a fine in the amount of $500 and six months' imprisonment. La.Rev.Stat. § 14:75.
I therefore respectfully dissent and would affirm the judgment of the court of appeals.
Fulco v. Fulco, 259 La. 1122, 1129, 254 So.2d 603, 605 (1971) (citing Messner v. Messner, 240 La. 252, 122 So.2d 90 (1960); Salley v. Salley, 238 La. 691, 116 So.2d 296 (1959); Decker v. Landry, 227 La. 603, 80 So.2d 91 (1955); Guillory v. Guillory, 221 La. 374, 59 So.2d 424 (1952)).
While Curole stated that abuse of discretion was the correct standard of review in a relocation case, it interchangeably referred to the manifest error standard in parts of the opinion. This was not technically correct. In Cleeton v. Cleeton, 383 So.2d 1231, 1235 (La. 1979) (on reh'g), we granted a rehearing in part to address an "important particular" overlooked by the Court on original hearing, which was that it erred in applying the manifest error standard. The Court explained that while the manifest error standard reverses "for error," "[t]he better standard of review in custody matters gives the trial court decisions great weight, to be overturned only when there is a clear abuse of discretion." 383 So.2d at 1235. See also Thompson v. Thompson, 532 So.2d 101 (La.1988) and Stephenson v. Stephenson, 404 So.2d 963 (La. 1981) (both applying the abuse of discretion standard in child custody cases). Similarly, in Bergeron v. Bergeron, 492 So.2d 1193, 1197 (La. 1986), we criticized an earlier Court's characterization of manifest error and abuse of discretion as being "substantially similar," see Bordelon v. Bordelon, 390 So.2d 1325, 1329 (La. 1980), calling this treatment of the appropriate standard "equivocal." In Bergeron, the Court conducted a very thorough analysis of whether the heavy burden of proof and abuse of discretion standard of review in child custody cases had been legislatively abrogated by the rejection of the maternal preference rule and found that they had been retained. The Court explained that the abuse of discretion standard "preserves the trial court's determination of the child's best interest, except in case of an abuse of discretion." 492 So.2d at 1196. Commentators have likewise distinguished the abuse of discretion standard as being a "a higher standard of deference" than the manifest error standard, applicable to cases where "the substantive law vests a high degree of discretion in the trial judge." Frank L. Maraist, Louisiana Civil Law Treatise: Civil Procedure, Volume I, § 14:14, p. 558 (2nd ed.2008). Relocation cases, like other cases involving determinations of the best interest of the child, are such cases where the trial court is vested with a high degree of discretion and, as stated in Curole, where the abuse of discretion standard is appropriate. Thus, while the manifest error and abuse of discretion standards may be similar, it is the abuse of discretion standard that applies here and the phrase should not be used interchangeably with manifest error.