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Pacheco v. Marulanda

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

January 14, 2015

Patricia Pacheco
v.
Nestor Marulanda

Providence County Family Court. (P11-785M). Associate Justice John E. McCann, III.

For Plaintiff: Veronica Assalone, Esq.

For Defendant: Arthur E. Chatfield, III, Esq.

Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1008

Flaherty, Justice.

The defendant, Nestor Marulanda, appeals from an order of the Family Court following the expedited motion by the plaintiff, Patricia Pacheco, to suspend the defendant's visitation rights with the parties' minor child. In this appeal, the defendant argues that the hearing justice abused his discretion because he failed to consider that the suspension of visitation rights adversely affects the best interests of the child. On November 6, 2014, this case came before the Supreme Court pursuant to an order directing the parties to show cause why the issues in this appeal should not be summarily decided. After hearing the arguments of the parties and examining the memoranda that they submitted, we are of the opinion that cause has not been shown, and we proceed to decide the appeal at this time without further briefing or argument. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we affirm the order of the Family Court.

I

Facts and Travel

The parties are the parents of a minor child, Alanna. On March 30, 2011, plaintiff filed a motion in the Family Court seeking joint custody of Alanna with defendant as well as physical placement in favor of herself. The defendant objected to plaintiff's motion and filed his own motion for relief as well as a motion to adjudge plaintiff in contempt premised on her failure to return all his personal property, a battle that had been waged in a separate legal action. The motions were heard by a justice of the Family Court, and on June 24, 2011, an order was entered granting joint custody to the parties, physical placement with plaintiff, and visitation in favor of defendant. The order specified that defendant would have visitation with Alanna " [e]very Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to Monday 12:00 noon." Further, the order mandated that defendant continue his previously court-ordered alcohol treatment.

On April 11, 2013, defendant filed a motion requesting the court to adjudge plaintiff in willful contempt for alleged violations of the June 24, 2011, order. Specifically, defendant contended that plaintiff had denied his regular visitations with

Page 1009

Alanna in direct contravention of the court order.

The plaintiff filed an objection to defendant's motion to adjudge her in contempt, as well as her own motion to suspend visits and modify custody. In her filings, plaintiff contended that, on or about March 24, 2013, defendant broke into her home and pilfered her jewelry. She also claimed that defendant had allegedly been discovered in a highly intoxicated state in a vehicle with four blown-out tires and with her jewelry in his pockets. As a result, defendant was arrested and charged with breaking and entering; a criminal no-contact order also was issued forbidding him to be in contact with plaintiff. Further, plaintiff alleged that defendant had a serious substance-abuse issue that caused her to be concerned for the well-being of Alanna and herself. The plaintiff sought an order: (1) granting ...


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