Child Custody Laws in Vermont
Child custody laws in Vermont describe custody as “parental rights and responsibilities”. These refer to the physical and legal responsibilities towards the child.
What is Physical Responsibility?
This is where your child will live. The parent who assumes physical responsibility for the child must tend to his or her daily needs. A court order may mandate whether one or both parents are in charge of physical responsibility towards the child. The court may only do this if both parents are in agreement. If not, the court will decide which parent is most suitable.
What is Legal Responsibility?
This refers to which parent has the right to make important decisions on behalf of the child. What is meant by ‘major’ decisions? Here are a few examples:
- The school your child will attend
- The doctor(s) who may treat your child
- The religion you want your child to espouse, etc.
If there is no court order stating who has a legal responsibility towards the child, then both parents are accountable. This also applies to physical responsibility.
Child Custody Laws in Vermont are the domain of the family courts. The judge presiding in the case will put forth a custody order founded on the child’s best interests. The gender of the parent is not used as a basis for deciding custody in the Vermont family court system. In addition, if both parents are unable to agree about custody, the Vermont family court will mandate either joint or sole custody.
What Factors will The Vermont Family Court Use to Determine a Child’s Best Interests?
The family court may use the following variables to make a custody order:
- The quality of the relationship between the parents and child
- The child’s ability to adjust to his or her current school, community and housing and the possible effects that happen in case of change
- Each parent’s capability of providing affection, guidance, and love to the child
- The ability to financially support the child (both parents)
- Each parent’s ability to provide a safe and warm environment
- Willingness and openness of each parent to encourage a continuous and positive relationship with the other parent
- History of abuse and or the effect of abuse on the quality of relationship between the abusive parent and child and the child and him or herself
What Type of Custody is Considered Best for The Child?
In Vermont, joint child custody is considered to be ideal for the child and his or her interests. This is based on parental agreements. Vermont Child Custody Laws require the following information to be included on a joint custody agreement:
- Where the child will be living?
- Details about where and when the child will establish physical contact with both parents
- Education details of minor children
- Information pertaining to the dental, medical and health care of the child
- How travel arrangements are to be arranged by each parent?
- How to communicate about the child’s best interests and how to resolve disputes
Vermont Family Court may order a binding arbitration or mediation in case a disagreement occurs. Joint custody agreements that are not in the best interests of the child will be rejected.
What Happens if Only One Parent is Given Physical Responsibility of the Child?
According to Child Custody Law in Vermont, if only one parent is given physical responsibility for the child, a parent-child contact will be ordered for the other parent. This states when this contact should happen.
In case one parent has harmed the child in any way, the court may deny or restrict the visitation. In Vermont, it is a crime to refuse to return the child after a visit. This is referred to as custodial interference and is punishable as a felony.