Child custody and visitation (parental rights and responsibilities) vermont law help antiemetic medications for chemotherapy

In any of these three kinds of court cases, a judge or magistrate will decide who has parental rights and responsibilities. That means they decide who has physical custody, who has legal custody, who will pay child support, and how much the child support will be. The court order will also say when and where your child or children will see the parent that they don’t live with.

Vermont has a process for legal separation. A legal separation case follows the same process as a divorce case. The main difference is that at the end of a legal separation case the parents are not divorced and can’t marry anyone else. If people with a legal separation want to marry other people, they will have to file for divorce. Sometimes people choose a legal separation for religious reasons.

If parents have never been married, either parent can file a parentageaction.


The person who files the action will have to identify the biological father of the child. If the person who does not file does not agree, the court might order a DNA test. What If We Agree About the Children?

Do you and your ex agree about who will have physical and legal responsibility? Do you agree about parent-child contact? The court will probably make your agreement be the court order. But the judge has to agree that your plan is good for your child or children. What If We Don’t Agree About the Children?

What if you and your ex can’t agree about what should happen with your child or children? The court will decide who gets physical and legal responsibilities. This happens at a “contested hearing.” A contested hearing is a trial in front of a judge. You will have to present evidence to the court about why you should get custody. The evidence is usually testimony from parents, teachers, doctors and other people who know your child, you and the other parent.

The court considers certain factors to make its decision. The most important factor is what the court believes will be best for your child. This is called the “best interests” of your child. “Best interests” is what the judge believes the law and the facts say would be the best for your child. Learn more on our Best Interests of the Child page.

If you are getting divorced, separated or there is a parentage case, the court will issue an order about parental rights and responsibilities. The order will say who your child or children will live with. It will also say who has legal responsibility for your child or children.

Parents can agree to share legal or physical responsibility. Or the court can order that only one parent will have legal and physical responsibility. The court can’t order the parents to share physical or legal responsibility if they don’t agree. Example of What Could Happen for a Family

The court could order that one parent has sole physical and legal responsibility for both children. If Susan gets sole custody, Emily and Joseph will live with Susan. Susan will make all of the decisions about Emily and Joseph. If John gets sole custody, Emily and Joseph will live with John. John will make all of the decisions about Emily and Joseph. Both parents can have access to educational and medical records.

Or John and Susan could make an agreement about Emily and Joseph. Susan and John could agree that Susan will have physical responsibility, and they will share legal responsibility. They will also agree to a regular parent-child schedule. In this example, Emily and Joseph will live with Susan. John and Susan will make major decisions about Emily and Joseph together. John will get to see the children on a regular schedule. Susan and John will put the parent-child contact agreement in their agreement about parental rights and responsibilities. Their agreement will become a court order. Visitation / Parent-Child Contact

The law assumes that it is in a child’s best interests to have contact with both parents. Has the other parent harmed you or your children? Then the court may limit or deny visitation. The court may limit or not allow visitation if the visiting parent is convicted of certain sex crimes or kidnapping. Not Bringing a Child Back or Refusing Visits

Parents have to follow the parent-child schedule. If you keep your child away from the parent who has custody, it is a crime. The crime is called “custodial interference.” This is a felony with a maximum sentence of five years in jail. It’s also a crime for another relative to keep the child away from the parent who has custody.

What if you are afraid for your child’s safety? There is a defense to custodial interference. You can refuse a visit if you honestly believe, in good faith, that you need to protect your child from immediate physical harm. You can’t leave Vermont with your child to protect him or her. You must file a motion in court within 72 hours. The motion must describe the imminent danger that you were protecting your child from.

Note: If you are the custodial parent, you have to make your child available for visits with the other parent even if that parent has missed many visits. Do not violate the court order because you are mad that the other parent is not following the order. Visitation and Child Support