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Know the Laws: Vermont

UPDATED March 29, 2017

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WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get help from an organization in your area before proceeding with court action.To find help, please go to the VT Where to Find Help page.

After an order is in place

back to topIf a court denies a request for PR&R, does the judge have to explain why?

Generally, yes, if you ask the court to do so.

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back to topCan a parent who does not have PR&R have access to the child’s records?

Usually yes.  A parent who does not have PR&R can still access records and information about a minor child, including medical, dental, law enforcement and school records.  However, if you can show that it’s not in your child’s best interest to give the other parent access to these records, or that it could cause you harm (such as abuse), a judge may order that the other parent not have access to the records.  Also, if a judge believes giving the other parent access to your address and other identifying information will put you or your children in danger, s/he can order that your address and identifying information be kept secret.*

* VT ST T. 15B § 312

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back to topIf a PR&R order is already in place, how can I get it changed?

Either party can try to modify (change) a PR&R order if you can show a “real, substantial and unanticipated change of circumstances” has happened since the order was issued.  If you can prove this, then the the judge will evaluate whether changing the order would be in the child's best interests.*  (Note: The law regarding modification is different for orders issued when a child is conceived as the result of a sexual assault.  For more information, go to If my child was conceived as a result of sexual assault, can the offender get parental rights and responsibilities?)

Note: If the judge modifies an order for physical responsibility, s/he is supposed to set a date for a child support modification hearing.  At the same time, the judge can issue a temporary support order pending the modification hearing so that the amount of child support reflects the change in physical responsibility.**  

Some examples of “real, substantial and unanticipated change of circumstances” may include:

  • Disability;
  • Illness;
  • Relocation due to a job or a family emergency;
  • A complete breakdown in communication between parents who have shared custody; or
  • The other parent becomes abusive toward the child.

However, there can be many other situations that meet the definition of “real, substantial and unanticipated change of circumstances” that are not mentioned here.  Talk to a lawyer in your area to find out if your situation might qualify you to get the custody order changed.  Go to VT Finding a Lawyer for free and paid legal resources.

* VT ST T. 15 § 668(a)
** VT ST T. 15 § 668(b)

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back to topIf I have PR&R, can I take my kids out of the state?

This may depend on the terms of the order.  Your order may say you can take the children out-of-state; it may say you can’t take the children out-of-state; or it may not address the issue at all. If your order does not specifically allow you to leave the state, you may need to get permission from a judge before leaving.  You may want to have an attorney look over your specific order, to get legal advice about whether or not you can leave the state with your children.

If you take your children out of state in violation of a custody order, you could possibly be charged with custodial interference or the other parent could file for contempt of court.  Contempt of court is when a judge finds that you’ve violated a court order and takes steps to try to force you to follow the order.  Custodial interference is a criminal charge where one parent takes the minor child away from the other parent who has a legal right to see the child.*

Custodial interference and contempt of court can have serious legal consequences.  If you are considering taking your child away from an abusive parent, please talk to an attorney.  For a list of legal resources, please see our VT Finding a Lawyer page.

* VT ST T. 13 § 2451(a)

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