Matter of Rodriguez v. Delacruz-Swan
Justice John Egan Jr.
Mother Delacruz-Swan appealed from an order granting father Rodriguez's application to modify a prior custody order. The parents previously stipulated that mother would have sole legal and physical custody of the subject child with visitation to father. Father argued in a proceeding that mother violated the terms of the stipulation by relocating with the child to North Carolina, and being intoxicated in the child's presence. Family Court subsequently awarded father and Santiago, his mother, joint custody with primary custody to Santiago in Massachusetts. The Family Court found mother willfully violated the prior custody order. This court affirmed the finding, noting the record revealed mother relocated to North Carolina without providing father with an address and phone number where the child could be reached. Also, mother conceded she violated the order by being intoxicated while the child was in her custody, thus, the court found no basis on which to disturb the Family Court's findings. It opined that mother's consistent lack of judgment stemming from her admitted alcohol abuse and asserted mental health issues was sufficient to demonstrate parental unfitness.