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A.B. v. S.E.W.

This cases raised the issue as to whether the New Jersey Supreme Court's previous decision in a case called V.C. - in which the Court determined that a same-sex partner can be deemed a "psychological parent" and therefore may be due visitation rights - can be applied to cases in which visitation rights were previously denied. A.B.'s initial request for visitation, heard before V.C. was denied and A.B. did not appeal at the time. When A.B. applied again for visitation post-V.C., her request was dismissed by the trial judge, based on the fact that it had previously been litigated. After A.B. appealed, the Appellate Division dismissed her case stating that, if V.C. is to apply retroactively, then a directive must come from the New Jersey Supreme Court, not the Appellate Division. The ACLU-NJ filed an amicus brief on June 7, 2002, in support of A.B.'s Petition for Certification to the New Jersey Supreme Court. On July 16, 2002, the Court granted certification and also granted our request to serve as amicus. On April 1, 2003, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that the decision in V.C. was not an exceptional circumstance that would justify reopening a final order that could have previously been appealed by the party. The Court noted that, to prevent endless re-litigation of settled cases, new developments in case law generally do not qualify as an extraordinary circumstance so as to justify relief under the catchall provision of rule providing for relief from judgment. This case was closed in 2003.

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