best interests of the child for vermont

Vermont law has removed the term “custody” in favor of “parental rights and duties.” Similarly, the legislature renamed “visitation” “parent-child contact.”

The goal of these revisions is to eliminate the negative connotation connected with the previous phrases and to promote a policy of continuing physical and emotional care between separated or divorced parents and their children.

The term “parental rights and responsibilities” refers to a child’s physical living circumstances, parent-child interaction, education, medical and dental care, religion, and travel, as well as any other topic pertaining to the child’s welfare and upbringing. According to the statute, parental obligation is classified into two categories: legal and physical.

The court’s decision will be directed by the child’s best interests, and it will take into account at least the following factors: 15 V.S.A. § 665(b)

  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.

It is not permissible for the court to give a preference to one parent over another because of the child’s sexual orientation, the sexual orientation of a parent, or the financial means of a parent

The court may order a parent who has been assigned responsibility for a particular matter involving the child’s welfare to notify the other parent whenever a significant change occurs in that matter.

When determining child custody in Vermont, courts do not have a presumption in favor of joint custody agreements. The judge will consider the circumstances of the custody dispute in order to find the custody arrangement that is in the child’s best interests.

The agreement must deal with living arrangements, education, health care, travel arrangements, contact with the child, and a procedure for resolving disputes.

Parent-Child Contact

Vermont supports the maximum amount of parent-child contact possible, to the extent that it is in the child’s best benefit.

The term “parent-child contact” refers to the child’s visitation — the right of a parent who does not have physical responsibility to have visitation with the child. If one parent is solely responsible for a child’s physical well-being, the other parent will most likely have some type of parent-child contact.

In some cases, the courts will set restrictions on the amount of time a parent can spend with their child.

According to 15 V.S.A. § 665(a), if one of the parents has been convicted of domestic violence against the other parent or has been found to have committed certain types of abuse against a family or household member within the ten years prior to the parent-child contact order, the court may award parent-child contact to that parent if the court finds that adequate provision can be made for the child’s safety or well-being.