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Know the Laws: Vermont

UPDATED March 29, 2017

Enforcing your Out-Of-State Order in Vermont

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If you are planning to move to Vermont or are going to be in Vermont for any reason, your protection or restraining order can be enforced.

General Rules for Out-of-State orders in Vermont

back to topCan I get my protection order enforced in Vermont? What are the requirements?

Yes.  Your protection order can be enforced in Vermont as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.*
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.**

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
** 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a), (b)

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back to topCan I have my out-of-state protection order changed, extended or canceled in Vermont?

No.  Only the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order.  You cannot have this done by a court in Vermont.

To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued.  You may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where the abuser is living. To find out more information about how to modify a protection order, see the Restraining Orders page for the state where your order was issued.

If your order does expire while you are living in Vermont, you may be able to get a new one issued in Vermont but this may be difficult to do if no incidents of abuse have taken place in Vermont.  To find out more information on how to get a relief from abuse order in Vermont, visit our VT Restraining Orders page.

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back to topI was granted temporary custody with my out-of-state protection order. Will I still have temporary custody in Vermont?

Yes.  As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,* Vermont can enforce a temporary custody order that is a part of a protection order.

To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets these standards, contact a lawyer in your area.  To find a lawyer in your area click the VT Finding a Lawyer page.

* The federal laws are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.

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Registering your Out-of-State order in Vermont

back to topWhat is the National Crime Information Center Registry? Who has access to it?

The National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC) is a nationwide, electronic database that contains protective order information used by law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada, and Puerto Rico.  It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.

All law enforcement officials have access to it, but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it.

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back to topHow do I register my protection order in Vermont?

You can register your protection order in any family court by filing a certified copy of the order with the court.  The court will make you swear under oath in an affidavit (a written statement) that to the best of your knowledge the order is presently in effect as written.

You may also bring a copy of the order (it does not have to be a certified copy) to the law enforcement department in your area.  The law enforcement officer may ask you to swear under oath or in writing that the order is still in effect.  The law enforcement officer will then enter the order into the law enforcement database, if s/he believes it to be a valid copy.

You do not need a lawyer to register your protection order.  If you are confused or worried about the process, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Vermont to ask for help from a local advocate.  To find a local domestic violence organization in Vermont, please go to our VT State and Local Programs page.

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back to topDo I have to register my protection order in Vermont in order to get it enforced?

No.  Police officers must enforce your protection order whether or not you register it. If it is not registered, you will need to show the officer a copy of your protection order, and you may have to swear in writing that it is still in effect.

While you do not have to register your protection order in order to get it enforced, one benefit of registration is that you may be able to get your order enforced, even if you are not carrying a copy of the order with you when the police officer arrives at the scene.  Protection orders that are registered in Vermont are kept in the Vermont Protection Order Database, and Vermont police officers should have access to this registry when they come on the scene.

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back to topWill the abuser be notified if I register my protection order?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.*  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Staying Safe page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan.  You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our VT State and Local Programs page.

* 18 USC § 2265(d)

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back to topWhat if I don't register my protection order? Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

Maybe.  If your order is not entered into the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) database (a national database of protection orders that some states keep records in), and you do not have a copy of your order with you when the police officer arrives, it may be more difficult to have your order enforced because it will be hard for the Vermont police officer to make sure that your order is real.

However, if you have a certified copy of your protection order with you, and if it is listed in the NCIC, then it may not matter if your protection order is registered in Vermont or not.

If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area.  An advocate there may be able to help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in Vermont.  To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in Vermont, go to our VT State and Local Programs page.

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back to topDoes it cost anything to register my protection order?

No. There is no cost to register your order in Vermont.

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