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Faucett v. Vasquez

New Jersey Superior Court
984 A.2d 460 (2009)


Facts

Andrew Faucett (plaintiff) and Darianna Vasquez (defendant) were married in 1997 and had one child, Billy. Faucett and Vasquez divorced in 2001, and in 2002, the court entered a custody order. The custody order granted Faucett and Vasquez joint legal custody, named Faucett as the custodial parent, and granted Vasquez liberal visitation. Faucett remarried, and Billy’s new stepmother took on a parenting role. Faucett was in the United States military, and he received notice that he was scheduled to be deployed in February 2009 for approximately one year. In January 2009, Vasquez sought transfer of custody via an order to show cause and argued that she provided the preferred living arrangement for Billy due to Faucett’s impending deployment. Vasquez argued that she did not need to establish a change in circumstances affecting Billy’s welfare, because she was presumed to be entitled to custody of Billy over his stepmother due to the parental-preference doctrine. In response, Faucett argued that not only did Vasquez have an unstable living arrangement, but the dispute was between Faucett and Vasquez as two natural parents, not Vasquez and the stepmother. The judge entered an order of dismissal and concluded that there was no need for a change of custody to immediately occur. However, the judge increased Vasquez’s parenting time and ordered a custody evaluation, after which either party could petition the court for modification of the order. Vasquez appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Messano, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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