Matter of King v. Barnes
Justice John Lahtinen
Mother Barnes appealed from a Family Court order granting father King primary residential custody of the subject child. Barnes previously had physical custody of the child, and requested King take the child until she found suitable housing. King refused to return the child upon request, and Barnes petitioned the court for custody. She also filed a separate petition alleging King violated a temporary visitation order. A hearing was held and the court granted the unmarried couple joint custody with physical custody to King. It noted King willfully violated the visitation order, but did not impose sanctions. This court noted while the record supported joint legal custody, there was inadequate proof to support a finding that King should have primary physical custody. It stated there was no proof of King's home environment, noting also King was not cooperative in fostering Barnes' relationship with the child, while Barnes was cooperative in arranging visits with King when the child resided with her. The court stated Barnes provided proof she found suitable housing, and reversed the order which granted King primary physical custody, remanding same for the Family Court to establish a visitation schedule for King.