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Legal Information: Vermont


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December 13, 2019

I am the child's grandparent. Can I get visitation?

In certain cases, grandparents can ask the court for visitation. If there is a court which has considered or is considering the custody or visitation of a child, the grandparent can file a written request with the court to ask for visitation. The court can grant it if it would be in the best interest of the child.1

If there is no such case going on regarding custody or visitation, a grandparent can start his/her own case for visitation in superior court ONLY if a parent of the child:

  • is deceased (dead),
  • is physically or mentally unable to make a decision about visitation, or
  • has abandoned the child.2

When deciding whether or not visitation with the grandparent would be in the child’s best interest, a judge may look at:

  • the love, affection and other emotional ties existing between the grandparent and the child;
  • the ability and willingness of the parties involved to give the child love, affection and guidance;
  • the nature of the relationships between the grandparent and the grandchild and the desirability of maintaining the relationship;
  • the moral fitness of the parties;
  • the mental and physical health of the parties;
  • the child’s reasonable preference, if the court believes the child is old enough to express a preference;
  • the willingness and ability of the grandparent to help and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parties and; and
  • any other factor which the court considers to be relevant.3

If you are denied visitation by the judge, you have to wait one year before you can file for it again unless there has been a substantial and unanticipated change of circumstances since you were denied the visitation – then you can re-file before the one year period is up.4

1 VT ST T. 15 § 1011
2 VT ST T. 15 § 1012
3 VT ST T. 15 § 1013
4 VT ST T. 15 § 1015