VermontChild Custody Law
Vermont Child Custody Guide :: Table of Contents
Child custody is defined as the guardianship over a child, which covers both physical custody and legal custody. In a child custody dispute the court may award joint custody to both parents or sole custody to a single parent.
Child custody cases in Vermont can be either contested and resolved by court order, or noncontested and defined in a child custody agreement between the parents. A custody agreement or order will legally determine, at minimum, the following things:
- Where the child lives (physical custody)
- Who is involved in making parenting decisions (legal custody)
- How the visitation schedule with non-custodial parents or relatives is arranged
This page describes how a contested child custody case is handled in the Vermont court system, and what factors are used to determine which parent gets custody.
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After a breakup or divorce in Vermont, couples with children must come to a child custody agreement that describes which parent the children will live with, how visitation will be scheduled, and how the non-custodial parent will pay child support.
Some of the factors considered by Vermont in child custody cases include the child's wishes, willingness of the parent to cooperate with their partner and any history of domestic violence.
In making an order under this section, the Court shall be guided by the best interests of the child, and shall 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, as defined in section 1101 of this title, and the impact of the abuse on the child and on the relationship between the child and the abusing parent.
If the parents are on amicable terms they may agree to custody terms in a parenting agreement between themselves, or via a mediator. If child custody is disputed, however, they will have to receive a child custody order from a Vermont judge, who will attempt to make a custody decision that is in the "best interests of the child".
In the state of Vermont, a number of factors are taken into account by the courts when determining who gets child custody. This section describes Vermont's custody factors, considerations, and presumptions when evaluating a custody order.
Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating child custody in the state of Vermont?
Vermont has a list of statutory factors that are considered by the court when determining a custody order. This list may include factors such as the child's age, the living situation of each parent, any history of abuse or neglect from either parent, etc. Although there is a statutory list of factors, consider other factors at its discretion depending on the particular circumstances of the case.
Do judges in the state of Vermont favor joint custody?
Judges in Vermont are authorized to order either joint or single-parent custody of a child subject to a custody dispute.
Courts in Vermont do not have a presumption in favor joint custody orders when evaluating child custody. The judge will evaluate the specifics of the custody dispute to determine what custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child.
Do Vermont courts encourage parents to cooperate together to raise the child?
Vermont courts favor awarding custody to a cooperative parent who is willing to work together with the other parent regarding child visitation, scheduling, child support, and other co-parenting matters. Vermont law favors co-parenting as being in the best interests of the child, and the courts will favor a parent willing to cooperate over a parent who attempts to alienate their child from the other parent.
Are the child's wishes considered when determining custody in the state of Vermont?
In Vermont, the court does consider the child's reasonable wishes when determining which parent wins custody. The judge may take the child's age, maturity, and judgement into consideration when considering the child's custody preference.
Do Vermont courts consider domestic violence when determining custody?
Vermont has laws that explicitly permit the consideration of domestic violence in conjunction with child custody. This may mean that domestic violence is a statutory factor in custody determinations, that the court has a presumption against custody for abusers, or that special procedural considerations are imposed in cases involving domestic violence.
Do the courts in the state of Vermont have the right to hire an attorney or Guardian Ad Litem to represent the child?
Vermont has statutory authority for appointment of a guardian ad litem or attorney specifically to represent the child in a custody case. This person advocates for the best interest of the child, and is tasked with investigating the family situation and advising the court what custody situation would be in the best interests of the child.