The following is a summary of Vermont child custody laws, and is by no means intended to be an all-inclusive description of what to expect in your particular case. In some cases, the exact text of the statute may have been simplified and/or modified to provide for easier understanding. For a more specific understanding of the laws, you should consult the full Vermont Code and/or consult with an attorney about how the law might apply to your particular situation.

Definitions.

Parental rights and responsibilities” means the rights and responsibilities related to a child’s physical living arrangements, parent child contact, education, medical and dental care, religion, travel and any other matter involving a child’s welfare and upbringing.

Legal responsibility” means the rights and responsibilities to determine and control various matters affecting a child’s welfare and upbringing, other than routine daily care and control of the child. These matters include but are not limited to education, medical and dental care, religion and travel arrangements. Legal responsibility may be held solely or may be divided or shared.

Physical responsibility” means the rights and responsibilities to provide routine daily care and control of the child subject to the right of the other parent to have contact with the child. Physical responsibility may be held solely or may be divided or shared.

-From § 664 of the Vermont Statutes.

Child Custody Guidelines.

The court will only order joint legal custody if the parents agree on joint legal custody. In awarding child custody, Vermont laws require the court to be guided by the best interests of the child, and to consider at least the following factors:

  1. The relationship of the child with each parent and the ability and disposition of each parent to provide the child with love, affection and guidance;
  2. The ability and disposition of each parent to assure that the child receives adequate food, clothing, medical care, other material needs and a safe environment;
  3. The ability and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s present and future developmental needs;
  4. The quality of the child’s adjustment to the child’s present housing, school and community and the potential effect of any change;
  5. The ability and disposition of each parent to foster a positive relationship and frequent and continuing contact with the other parent, including physical contact, except where contact will result in harm to the child or to a parent;
  6. The quality of the child’s relationship with the primary care provider, if appropriate given the child’s age and development;
  7. The relationship of the child with any other person who may significantly affect the child;
  8. The ability and disposition of the parents to communicate, cooperate with each other and make joint decisions concerning the children where parental rights and responsibilities are to be shared or divided; and
  9. Evidence of abuse, and the impact of the abuse on the child and on the relationship between the child and the abusing parent.

The court shall not apply a preference for one parent over the other because of the sex of the child, the sex of a parent or the financial resources of a parent.

-From § 665 of the Vermont Statutes.

Parenting Agreement.

Any agreement between the parents which divides or shares parental rights and responsibilities shall be presumed to be in the best interests of the child. An agreement between the parties which is a complete agreement on parental rights and responsibilities shall include provisions that address at least the following:

  1. Physical living arrangements;
  2. Parent child contact;
  3. Education of the minor child;
  4. Medical, dental and health care;
  5. Travel arrangements;
  6. Procedures for communicating about the child’s welfare; and
  7. If parental rights and responsibilities are to be shared or divided, procedures for resolving disputes. Such procedures may include but shall not be limited to mediation and binding arbitration.

-From § 666 of the Vermont Statutes.

Access to Records.

Access to records and information about a minor child, including but not limited to medical, dental, law enforcement and school records shall not be denied to a parent solely because that parent has not been awarded parental rights and responsibilities. The court may order that access to all or a portion of the records or information shall be denied if access is not in the best interest of the child or if access may cause detriment to the other parent, including but not limited to, abuse.

-From § 670 of the Vermont Statutes.

 

This information has been summarized from the Vermont statutes. You can find the full-text version of these and other Vermont divorce statutes online here: Vermont Divorce Laws.

LEARN MORE ABOUT GENERAL CHILD CUSTODY LAWS.

GO TO ANOTHER DIVORCE ARTICLE.

 

IMPORTANT: Help Yourself Divorce is a paralegal service, not a law firm. Please don’t rely on this information for legal advice. Seek help from an attorney if you need legal advice.

 

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