Legal Information: Vermont

Statutes: Vermont

View by section

Statutes: Vermont

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

The statutes are current through the laws of the First Session of the 2017-2018 Vermont General Assembly (2017). State court rules are current with amendments received through December 1, 2017. Please check to make sure there have been no changes since this time. You can find other Vermont statutes on the Vermont General Assembly website.

Title Twelve. Court Procedure

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Part 9. Particular Proceedings

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Chapter 178. Orders Against Stalking or Sexual Assault

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

5131. Definitions

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

As used in this chapter:

(1)(A) “Course of conduct” means two or more acts over a period of time, however short, in which a person follows, monitors, surveils, threatens, or makes threats about another person, or interferes with another person's property. This definition shall apply to acts conducted by the person directly or indirectly, and by any action, method, device, or means. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of “course of conduct.”

(B) As used in subdivision (A) of this subdivision (1), threaten shall not be construed to require an express or overt threat.

(2) Repealed by 2015, Adj. Sess., No. 162, § 2, eff. July 1, 2016.

(3) “Nonphysical contact” includes telephone calls, mail, e-mail, social media commentary or comment, or other electronic communication, fax, and written notes.

(4) “Reasonable person” means a reasonable person in the victim's circumstances.

(5) “Sexually assaulted the plaintiff” means that the defendant engaged in conduct that meets elements of lewd and lascivious conduct as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2601, lewd and lascivious conduct with a child as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2602, sexual assault as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3252, aggravated sexual assault as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3253, use of a child in a sexual performance as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2822, or consenting to a sexual performance as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2823 and that the plaintiff was the victim of the offense.

(6) “Stalk” means to engage purposefully in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that the person engaging in the conduct knows or should know would cause a reasonable person to:

(A) fear for his or her safety or the safety of a family member; or

(B) suffer substantial emotional distress as evidenced by:

(i) a fear of unlawful sexual conduct, unlawful restraint, bodily injury, or death; or

(ii) significant modifications in the person's actions or routines, including moving from an established residence, changes to established daily routes to and from work that cause a serious disruption in the person's life, changes to the person's employment or work schedule, or the loss of a job or time from work.

(7) “Stay away” means to refrain from knowingly:

(A) initiating or maintaining a physical presence near the plaintiff;

(B) engaging in nonphysical contact with the plaintiff directly or indirectly; or

(C) engaging in nonphysical contact with the plaintiff through third parties who may or may not know of the order.

(8) Repealed by 2015, Adj. Sess., No. 162, § 2, eff. July 1, 2016.

5132. Jurisdiction and venue

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) The superior court shall have jurisdiction over proceedings under this chapter.

(b) Proceedings under this chapter may be commenced in the county in which the plaintiff resides. If the plaintiff has left his or her residence to avoid being stalked or sexually assaulted, the plaintiff shall have the option to bring an action in the county of the previous residence or the county of the new residence.

5133. Requests for an order against stalking or sexual assault

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) A person, other than a family or household member as defined in 15 V.S.A. § 1101(2), may seek an order against stalking or sexual assault on behalf of him- or herself or his or her children by filing a complaint under this chapter. A minor 16 years of age or older may file a complaint under this chapter seeking relief on his or her own behalf. The plaintiff shall submit an affidavit in support of the order.

(b) Except as provided in section 5134 of this title, the court shall grant the order only after notice to the defendant and a hearing. The plaintiff shall have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant stalked or sexually assaulted the plaintiff.

(c) In a hearing under this chapter, neither opinion evidence of nor evidence of the reputation of the plaintiff's sexual conduct shall be admitted. Evidence of prior sexual conduct of the plaintiff shall not be admitted; provided, however, where it bears on the credibility of the plaintiff or it is material to a fact at issue and its probative value outweighs its private character, the court may admit any of the following:

(1) evidence of the plaintiff's past sexual conduct with the defendant;

(2) evidence of specific instances of the plaintiff's sexual conduct showing the source of origin of semen, pregnancy, or disease; or

(3) evidence of specific instances of the plaintiff's past false allegations of violations of 13 V.S.A. chapter 59 or 72.

(d) If the court finds by a preponderance of evidence that the defendant has stalked or sexually assaulted the plaintiff, or has been convicted of stalking or sexually assaulting the plaintiff, the court shall order the defendant to stay away from the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children, or both, and may make any other order it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children, or both.

(e) Relief shall be granted for a fixed period, at the expiration of which time the court may extend any order, upon motion of the plaintiff, for such additional time as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children, or both. It is not necessary for the court to find that the defendant stalked or sexually assaulted the plaintiff during the pendency of the order to extend the terms of the order. The court may modify its order at any subsequent time upon motion by either party and a showing of a substantial change in circumstance.

(f) No filing fee shall be required.

(g) Every order under this chapter shall contain the name of the court, the names of the parties, the date of the petition, and the date and time of the order and shall be signed by the judge.

(h) Form complaints and form orders for an “Order Against Stalking or Sexual Assault” shall be provided by the Court Administrator and shall be maintained by the clerks of the courts.

(i) When findings are required under this section, the court shall make either written findings of fact or oral findings of fact on the record.

(j) Every final order issued under this section shall bear the following language: “VIOLATION OF THIS ORDER IS A CRIME SUBJECT TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE, OR BOTH, AND MAY ALSO BE PROSECUTED AS CRIMINAL CONTEMPT PUNISHABLE BY FINE OR IMPRISONMENT, OR BOTH.”

(k) Affidavit forms required pursuant to this section shall bear the following language: “MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS IN THIS AFFIDAVIT IS A CRIME SUBJECT TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE, OR BOTH, AS PROVIDED BY 13 V.S.A. § 2904.”

(l) A finding by the court pursuant to this chapter that the defendant stalked or sexually assaulted the plaintiff shall not be admissible in any subsequent civil proceedings for the purpose of establishing liability.

5134. Emergency relief

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) In accordance with the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure, a person other than a family or household member as defined in 15 V.S.A. § 1001(2) may file a complaint for a temporary order against stalking or sexual assault. Such complaint shall be filed during regular court hours. The plaintiff shall submit an affidavit in support of the order. The court may issue a temporary order under this chapter ex parte, without notice to the defendant, upon motion and findings by the court that the defendant has stalked or sexually assaulted the plaintiff. The court may order the defendant to stay away from the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children, or both, and may make any other such order it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children, or both.
(b) Every order issued under this section shall contain the name of the court, the names of the parties, the date of the petition, and the date and time of the order and shall be signed by the judge. Every order issued under this section shall state upon its face a date, time, and place that the defendant may appear to petition the court for modification or discharge of the order. This opportunity to contest shall be scheduled as soon as reasonably possible, which in no event shall be more than 14 days from the date of issuance of the order. At such hearings, the plaintiff shall have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant stalked or sexually assaulted the plaintiff. If the court finds that the plaintiff has met his or her burden, it shall continue the order in effect and make such other orders as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children, or both.
(c) Form complaints and form orders shall be provided by the Court Administrator and shall be maintained by the clerks of the courts.
(d) Every order issued under this chapter shall bear the following language: “VIOLATION OF THIS ORDER IS A CRIME SUBJECT TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE, OR BOTH, AND MAY ALSO BE PROSECUTED AS CRIMINAL CONTEMPT PUNISHABLE BY FINE OR IMPRISONMENT, OR BOTH.”
(e) Affidavit forms required pursuant to this section shall bear the following language: “MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS IN THIS AFFIDAVIT IS A CRIME SUBJECT TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE, OR BOTH, AS PROVIDED BY 13 V.S.A. § 2904.”

5135. Service

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) A complaint or ex parte temporary order or final order issued under this chapter shall be served in accordance with the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure and may be served by any law enforcement officer. A court that issues an order under this chapter during court hours shall promptly transmit the order electronically or by other means to a law enforcement agency for service.

(b) A defendant who attends a hearing held under section 5133 or 5134 of this title at which a temporary or final order under this chapter is issued and who receives notice from the court on the record that the order has been issued shall be deemed to have been served. A defendant notified by the court on the record shall be required to adhere immediately to the provisions of the order. However, even when the court has previously notified the defendant of the order, the court shall transmit the order for additional service by a law enforcement agency.

(c) Orders against stalking or sexual assault shall be served by the law enforcement agency at the earliest possible time and shall take precedence over other summonses and orders, with the exception of abuse prevention orders issued pursuant to 15 V.S.A. chapter 21. Orders shall be served in a manner calculated to ensure the safety of the plaintiff. Methods of service which include advance notification to the defendant shall not be used. The person making service shall file a return of service with the court stating the date, time, and place that the order was delivered personally to the defendant.

(d) If service of a notice of hearing issued under section 5133 or 5134 of this title cannot be made before the scheduled hearing, the court shall continue the hearing and extend the terms of the order upon request of the plaintiff for such additional time as it deems necessary to achieve service on the defendant.

5136. Procedure

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) Except as otherwise specified in this chapter, proceedings commenced under this chapter shall be in accordance with the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure and shall be in addition to any other available civil or criminal remedies.

(b) The Court Administrator is authorized to contract with public or private agencies to assist plaintiffs to seek relief and to gain access to Superior Court. Law enforcement agencies shall assist in carrying out the intent of this section.

(c) The Office of the Court Administrator shall ensure that the Superior Court has procedures in place so that the contents of orders and pendency of other proceedings can be known to all courts for cases in which an order against stalking or sexual assault proceeding is related to a criminal proceeding.

(d) Unless otherwise ordered by the court, an order issued pursuant to sections 5133 and 5134 of this title shall not be stayed pending an appeal.

5137. Filing orders with law enforcement personnel; a department of public safety protection order database

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) Police departments, sheriff's departments, and state police district offices shall establish procedures for filing notice against stalking or sexual assault orders issued under this chapter and for making their personnel aware of the existence and contents of such orders.

(b) Any court in this state that issues a notice against stalking or sexual assault order under this chapter shall transmit a copy of the order to the department of public safety's protection order database.

5138. Enforcement

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) Law enforcement officers are authorized to enforce orders issued under this chapter. A foreign abuse prevention order as defined in 15 V.S.A. § 1101 shall be accorded full faith and credit throughout this state and shall be enforced as if it were an order of this state. Law enforcement officers may rely upon a copy of any order issued under this chapter or any foreign abuse prevention order. Enforcement may include, but is not limited to, making an arrest in accordance with the provisions of Rule 3 of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure.

(b) In addition to the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, violation of an order issued under this chapter may be prosecuted as a criminal contempt under Rule 42 of Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure. The prosecution for criminal contempt may be initiated by the state's attorney in district or superior court in the unit or county in which the violation occurred. The maximum penalty which may be imposed under this subsection shall be a fine of $1,000.00 or imprisonment for six months, or both. A sentence of imprisonment upon conviction for criminal contempt may be stayed in the discretion of the court, pending the expiration of the time allowed for filing notice of appeal or pending appeal if any appeal is taken. After two years have passed from conviction under this subsection, the court may on motion of the defendant expunge the record of the criminal proceeding and conviction unless the defendant has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or a violation of a protection order after such initial adjudication.

Title Thirteen. Crimes and Criminal Procedure

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Part 1. Crimes

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Chapter 1. General Provisions

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

1. Felonies and misdemeanors defined

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Any other provision of law notwithstanding any offense whose maximum term of imprisonment is more than two years, for life or which may be punished by death is a felony. Any other offense is a misdemeanor.

Chapter 19. Breach of the Peace; Disturbances

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Subchapter 4. Other Disturbances of the Peace

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

1027. Disturbing peace by use of telephone or other electronic communications

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) A person who, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, or annoy, makes contact by means of a telephonic or other electronic communication with another and makes any request, suggestion, or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, or indecent; threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to the person or property of any person; or disturbs, or attempts to disturb, by repeated telephone calls or other electronic communications, whether or not conversation ensues, the peace, quiet, or right of privacy of any person at the place where the communication or communications are received shall be fined not more than $250.00 or be imprisoned not more than three months, or both. If the defendant has previously been convicted of a violation of this section or of an offense under the laws of another state or of the United States which would have been an offense under this act if committed in this State, the defendant shall be fined not more than $500.00 or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.

(b) An intent to terrify, threaten, harass, or annoy may be inferred by the trier of fact from the use of obscene, lewd, lascivious, or indecent language or the making of a threat or statement or repeated telephone calls or other electronic communications as set forth in this section and any trial court may in its discretion include a statement to this effect in its jury charge.

(c) An offense committed by use of a telephone or other electronic communication device as set forth in this section shall be considered to have been committed at either the place where the telephone call or calls originated or at the place where the communication or communications or calls were received.

1030. Violation of an abuse prevention order, an order against stalking or sexual assault, or a protective order concerning contact with a child

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) A person who intentionally commits an act prohibited by a court or who fails to perform an act ordered by a court, in violation of an abuse prevention order issued under 15 V.S.A. chapter 21 or 33 V.S.A. chapter 69, a protective order that concerns contact with a child and is issued under 33 V.S.A. chapter 51, or an order against stalking or sexual assault issued under 12 V.S.A. chapter 178, after the person has been served notice of the contents of the order as provided in those chapters; or in violation of a foreign abuse prevention order or an order against stalking or sexual assault issued by a court in any other state, federally recognized Indian tribe, territory or possession of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia; shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both.
(b) A person who is convicted of a second or subsequent offense under this section or is convicted of an offense under this section and has previously been convicted of domestic assault under section 1042 of this title, first degree aggravated domestic assault under section 1043 of this title, or second degree aggravated domestic assault under section 1044 of this title shall be imprisoned not more than three years or fined not more than $25,000.00, or both.
(c) Upon conviction under this section for a violation of an order issued under 15 V.S.A. chapter 21, the court shall, unless the circumstances indicate that it is not appropriate or not available, order the defendant to participate in domestic abuse counseling or a domestic abuse prevention program approved by the Department of Corrections. The defendant may at any time request the court to approve an alternative program. The defendant shall pay all or part of the costs of the counseling or program unless the court finds that the defendant is unable to do so.
(d) Upon conviction for a violation of an order issued under 12 V.S.A. chapter 178, the court may order the defendant to participate in mental health counseling or sex offender treatment approved by the Department of Corrections. The defendant shall pay all or part of the costs of the counseling unless the court finds that the defendant is unable to do so.
(e) Nothing in this section shall be construed to diminish the inherent authority of the courts to enforce their lawful orders through contempt proceedings.
(f) Prosecution for violation of an abuse prevention order or an order against stalking or sexual assault shall not bar prosecution for any other crime, including any crime that may have been committed at the time of the violation of the order.

Subchapter 7. Stalking

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

1061. Definitions

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(1)(A) “Course of conduct” means two or more acts over a period of time, however short, in which a person follows, monitors, surveils, threatens, or makes threats about another person, or interferes with another person's property. This definition shall apply to acts conducted by the person directly or indirectly, and by any action, method, device, or means. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of “course of conduct.”

(B) As used in subdivision (A) of this subdivision (1), threaten shall not be construed to require an express or overt threat.

(2) “Emotional distress” means significant mental suffering or distress that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.

(3) “Reasonable person” means a reasonable person in the victim's circumstances.

(4) “Stalk” means to engage purposefully in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that the person engaging in the conduct knows or should know would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of another or would cause a reasonable person substantial emotional distress.

1062. Stalking

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Any person who intentionally stalks another person shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both.

1063. Aggravated stalking

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) A person commits the crime of aggravated stalking if the person intentionally stalks another person, and:

(1) such conduct violates a court order that prohibits stalking and is in effect at the time of the offense;

(2) has been previously convicted of stalking or aggravated stalking;

(3) has been previously convicted of an offense an element of which involves an act of violence against the same person;

(4) the person being stalked is under 16 years of age; or

(5) had a deadly weapon, as defined in section 1021 of this title, in his or her possession while engaged in the act of stalking.

(b) A person who commits the crime of aggravated stalking shall be imprisoned not more than five years or be fined not more than $25,000.00, or both.

(c) Conduct constituting the offense of aggravated stalking shall be considered a violent act for the purposes of determining bail.

1064. Defenses

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

In a prosecution under this subchapter, it shall not be a defense that the defendant was not provided actual notice that the course of conduct was unwanted.

Chapter 28. Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

1379. Sexual abuse

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) A person who volunteers for or is paid by a caregiving facility or program shall not engage in any sexual activity with a vulnerable adult. It shall be an affirmative defense to a prosecution under this subsection that the sexual activity was consensual between the vulnerable adult and a caregiver who was hired, supervised, and directed by the vulnerable adult. A person who violates this subsection shall be imprisoned for not more than two years or fined not more than $10,000.00, or both.

(b) No person, whether or not the person has actual knowledge of the victim's vulnerable status, shall engage in sexual activity with a vulnerable adult if:

(1) the vulnerable adult does not consent to the sexual activity; or

(2) the person knows or should know that the vulnerable adult is incapable of resisting, declining, or consenting to the sexual activity due to his or her specific vulnerability or due to fear of retribution or hardship.

(c) A person who violates subsection (b) of this section shall be:

(1) imprisoned for not more than five years or fined not more than $10,000.00, or both, if the sexual activity involves lewd and lascivious conduct;

(2) imprisoned for not more than 20 years or fined not more than $10,000.00, or both, if the sexual activity involves a sexual act.

(d) A caregiver who violates subsection (b) of this section shall be:

(1) imprisoned for not more than seven years or fined not more than $10,000.00, or both, if the sexual activity involves lewd and lascivious conduct.

(2) imprisoned for not more than 25 years or fined not more than $10,000.00, or both, if the sexual activity involves a sexual act.

Chapter 39. Extortion and Threats

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

1702. Criminal threatening

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) A person shall not by words or conduct knowingly:

(1) threaten another person; and

(2) as a result of the threat, place the other person in reasonable apprehension of death or serious bodily injury.

(b) A person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.

(c) A person who violates subsection (a) of this section with the intent to prevent another person from reporting to the Department for Children and Families the suspected abuse or neglect of a child shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.

(d) As used in this section:

(1) “Serious bodily injury” shall have the same meaning as in section 1021 of this title.

(2) “Threat” and “threaten” shall not include constitutionally protected activity.

(e) Any person charged under this section who is under 18 years of age shall be adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent.

(f) It shall be an affirmative defense to a charge under this section that the person did not have the ability to carry out the threat. The burden shall be on the defendant to prove the affirmative defense by a preponderance of the evidence.

Chapter 47. Frauds

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

2001. False Personation

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

A person who falsely personates or represents another, and in such assumed character receives money or other property intended to be delivered to the party so personated, with intent to convert the same to the person's own use, shall be imprisoned not more than 10 years or fined not more than $ 2,000.00, or both.

2030. Identity theft

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) No person shall obtain, produce, possess, use, sell, give, or transfer personal identifying information belonging or pertaining to another person with intent to use the information to commit a misdemeanor or a felony.

(b) No person shall knowingly or recklessly obtain, produce, possess, use, sell, give, or transfer personal identifying information belonging or pertaining to another person without the consent of the other person and knowingly or recklessly facilitating the use of the information by a third person to commit a misdemeanor or a felony.

(c) For the purposes of this section, "personal identifying information" includes name, address, birth date, Social Security number, motor vehicle personal identification number, telephone number, financial services account number, savings account number, checking account number, credit card number, debit card number, picture, identification document or false identification document, electronic identification number, educational record, health care record, financial record, credit record, employment record, e-mail address, computer system password, or mother's maiden name, or similar personal number, record, or information.

(d) This section shall not apply when a person obtains the personal identifying information belonging or pertaining to another person to misrepresent the person's age for the sole purpose of obtaining alcoholic beverages, tobacco, or another privilege denied based on age.

(e) It shall be an affirmative defense to an action brought pursuant to this section, to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, that the person had the consent of the person to whom the personal identifying information relates or pertains.

(f) A person who violates this section shall be imprisoned for not more than three years or fined not more $ 5,000.00, or both. A person who is convicted of a second or subsequent violation of this section involving a separate scheme shall be imprisoned for not more than 10 years or fined not more than $ 10,000.00, or both.

Chapter 56. Custodial Interference

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

2451. Custodial interference

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) A person commits custodial interference by taking, enticing or keeping a child from the child's lawful custodian, knowingly, without a legal right to do so, when the person is a relative of the child and the child is less than 18 years old.
(b) A person who commits custodial interference shall be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both.
(c) It shall be a defense to a charge of keeping a child from the child's lawful custodian that the person charged with the offense was acting in good faith to protect the child from real and imminent physical danger. Evidence of good faith shall include the filing of a nonfrivolous petition documenting that danger and seeking to modify the custodial decree in a Vermont court of competent jurisdiction. This petition must be filed within three business days of the termination of visitation rights. This defense shall not be available if the person charged with the offense has left the State with the child.

Chapter 59. Lewdness and Prostitution

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Subchapter 1. Lewd and Indecent Conduct

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

2601. Lewd and lascivious conduct

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

A person guilty of open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior shall be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than $300.00, or both.

2602. Lewd or lascivious conduct with child

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a)(1) No person shall willfully and lewdly commit any lewd or lascivious act upon or with the body, or any part or member thereof, of a child under the age of 16 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of such person or of such child.

(2) This section shall not apply if the person is less than 19 years old, the child is at least 15 years old, and the conduct is consensual.

(b) A person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be:

(1) For a first offense, imprisoned not less than two years and not more than 15 years, and, in addition, may be fined not more than $5,000.00, or both.

(2) For a second offense, imprisoned not less than five years and a maximum term of life, and, in addition, may be fined not more than $25,000.00, or both.

(3) For a third or subsequent offense, imprisoned not less than 10 years and a maximum term of life, and, in addition, may be fined not more than $25,000.00, or both.

(c)(1) Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, a sentence ordered pursuant to subdivision (b)(2) of this section shall include at least a five-year term of imprisonment and a sentence ordered pursuant to subdivision (b)(3) of this section shall include at least a 10-year term of imprisonment. The five-year and 10-year terms of imprisonment required by this subdivision shall be served and may not be suspended, deferred, or served as a supervised sentence. The defendant shall not be eligible for probation, parole, furlough, or any other type of early release until the expiration of the five-year or 10-year term of imprisonment.

(2) The court may depart downwardly from the five-year and 10-year terms of imprisonment required by subdivisions (b)(2) and (3) of this section and impose a lesser term of incarceration if the court makes written findings on the record that the downward departure will serve the interests of justice and public safety.

(d) A person convicted of violating subdivision (b)(2) or (3) of this section shall be sentenced under section 3271 of this title.

(e) Any prior conviction for sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault shall be considered a prior offense for purposes of sentencing enhancement. This section shall not apply to a person who was convicted of sexual assault committed when the person was younger than 19 years of age and which involved consensual sex with a child at least 15 years of age.

(f) Conduct constituting the offense of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under this section shall be considered a violent act for the purpose of determining bail under chapter 229 of this title.

2605. Voyeurism

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) As used in this section:

(1) “Bona fide private investigator or bona fide security guard” means an individual lawfully providing services, whether licensed or unlicensed, pursuant to 26 V.S.A. §§ 3151 and 3151a.

(2) “Female breast” means any portion of the female breast below the top of the areola.

(3) “Circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy” means circumstances in which a reasonable person would believe that his or her intimate areas would not be visible to the public, regardless of whether that person is in a public or private area. This definition includes circumstances in which a person knowingly disrobes in front of another, but does not expect nor give consent for the other person to photograph, film, or record his or her intimate areas.

(4) “Intimate areas” means the naked or undergarment-clad genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast of a person.

(5) “Place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy” means:

(A) a place in which a reasonable person would believe that he or she could disrobe in privacy, without his or her undressing being viewed by another; or

(B) a place in which a reasonable person would expect to be safe from unwanted intrusion or surveillance.

(6) “Sexual conduct” shall have the same meaning as in section 2821 of this title.

(7) “Surveillance” means secret observation of the activities of another person for the purpose of spying upon and invading the privacy of the person.

(8) “View” means the intentional looking upon another person for more than a brief period of time, in other than a casual or cursory manner, with the unaided eye or a device designed or intended to improve visual acuity.

(b) No person shall intentionally view, photograph, film, or record in any format:

(1) the intimate areas of another person without that person's knowledge and consent while the person being viewed, photographed, filmed, or recorded is in a place where he or she would have a reasonable expectation of privacy; or

(2) the intimate areas of another person without that person's knowledge and consent and under circumstances in which the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

(c) No person shall display or disclose to a third party any image recorded in violation of subsection (b), (d), or (e) of this section.

(d) No person shall intentionally conduct surveillance or intentionally photograph, film, or record in any format a person without that person's knowledge and consent while the person being surveilled, photographed, filmed, or recorded is in a place where he or she would have a reasonable expectation of privacy within a home or residence. Bona fide private investigators and bona fide security guards engaged in otherwise lawful activities within the scope of their employment are exempt from this subsection.

(e) No person shall intentionally photograph, film, or record in any format a person without that person's knowledge and consent while that person is in a place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and that person is engaged in sexual conduct.

(f) This section shall apply to a person who intentionally views, photographs, films, or records the intimate areas of a person as part of a security or theft prevention policy or program at a place of business.

(g) This section shall not apply to:

(1) a law enforcement officer conducting official law enforcement activities in accordance with state and federal law; or

(2) official activities of the Department of Corrections, a law enforcement agency, the Agency of Human Services, or a court for security purposes or during the investigation of alleged misconduct by a person in the custody of the Department of Corrections, a law enforcement agency, the Agency of Human Services, or a court.

(h) This section is not intended to infringe upon the freedom of the press to gather and disseminate news as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

(i) It shall be an affirmative defense to a violation of subsection (b) of this section that the defendant was a bona fide private investigator or bona fide security guard conducting surveillance in the ordinary course of business, and the violation was unintentional and incidental to otherwise legal surveillance. However, an unintentional and incidental violation of subsection (b) of this section shall not be a defense to a violation of subsection (c).

(j) For a first offense, a person who violates subsection (b), (d), or (e) of this section shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both. For a second or subsequent offense, a person who violates subsection (b), (d), or (e) of this section shall be imprisoned not more than three years or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both. A person who violates subsection (c) of this section shall be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both.

2606. Disclosure of sexually explicit images without consent

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) As used in this section:

(1) “Disclose” includes transfer, publish, distribute, exhibit, or reproduce.

(2) “Harm” means physical injury, financial injury, or serious emotional distress.

(3) “Nude” means any one or more of the following uncovered parts of the human body:

(A) genitals;

(B) pubic area;

(C) anus; or

(D) post-pubescent female nipple.

(4) “Sexual conduct” shall have the same meaning as in section 2821 of this title.

(5) “Visual image” includes a photograph, film, videotape, recording, or digital reproduction.

(b)(1) A person violates this section if he or she knowingly discloses a visual image of an identifiable person who is nude or who is engaged in sexual conduct, without his or her consent, with the intent to harm, harass, intimidate, threaten, or coerce the person depicted, and the disclosure would cause a reasonable person to suffer harm. A person may be identifiable from the image itself or information offered in connection with the image. Consent to recording of the visual image does not, by itself, constitute consent for disclosure of the image. A person who violates this subdivision (1) shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $2,000.00, or both.

(2) A person who violates subdivision (1) of this subsection with the intent of disclosing the image for financial profit shall be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than $10,000.00, or both.

(c) A person who maintains an Internet website, online service, online application, or mobile application that contains a visual image of an identifiable person who is nude or who is engaged in sexual conduct shall not solicit or accept a fee or other consideration to remove, delete, correct, modify, or refrain from posting or disclosing the visual image if requested by the depicted person.

(d) This section shall not apply to:

(1) Images involving voluntary nudity or sexual conduct in public or commercial settings or in a place where a person does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

(2) Disclosures made in the public interest, including the reporting of unlawful conduct, or lawful and common practices of law enforcement, criminal reporting, corrections, legal proceedings, or medical treatment.

(3) Disclosures of materials that constitute a matter of public concern.

(4) Interactive computer services, as defined in 47 U.S.C. § 230(f)(2), or information services or telecommunications services, as defined in 47 U.S.C. § 153, for content solely provided by another person. This subdivision shall not preclude other remedies available at law.

(e)(1) A plaintiff shall have a private cause of action against a defendant who knowingly discloses, without the plaintiff's consent, an identifiable visual image of the plaintiff while he or she is nude or engaged in sexual conduct and the disclosure causes the plaintiff harm.

(2) In addition to any other relief available at law, the Court may order equitable relief, including a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, or a permanent injunction ordering the defendant to cease display or disclosure of the image. The Court may grant injunctive relief maintaining the confidentiality of a plaintiff using a pseudonym.

Chapter 64. Sexual Exploitation of Children

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

2822. Use of a child in a sexual performance

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) No person shall, with knowledge of the character and content, promote a sexual performance by a child or a performance which contains a lewd exhibition of the genitals, anus or breasts of a child, or hire, employ, procure, use, cause or induce a child to engage in such a performance.

(b) In any prosecution arising under this section, the defendant may raise as an affirmative defense that before the child participated in the sexual performance, the defendant, in good faith, had a reasonable and factual basis to conclude that the child had in fact attained the age of 16; and the defendant did not rely solely upon the oral allegations or representations of the child as to his or her age.

2823. Consenting to a sexual performance

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

No person who is the parent, legal guardian, or custodian of a child may, with knowledge of the character and content, consent to the participation of that child in a sexual performance or a performance including a lewd exhibition of the genitals by that child.

Chapter 72. Sexual Assault

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Subchapter 1. Crimes; Trials

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

3252. Sexual assault

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) No person shall engage in a sexual act with another person and

compel the other person to participate in a sexual act:

(1) without the consent of the other person; or

(2) by threatening or coercing the other person; or

(3) by placing the other person in fear that any person will suffer imminent bodily injury.

(b) No person shall engage in a sexual act with another person and impair substantially the ability of the other person to appraise or control conduct by administering or employing drugs or intoxicants without the knowledge or against the will of the other person.

(c) No person shall engage in a sexual act with a child who is under the age of 16, except:

(1) where the persons are married to each other and the sexual act is consensual; or

(2) where the person is less than 19 years old, the child is at least 15 years old, and the sexual act is consensual.

(d) No person shall engage in a sexual act with a child who is under the age of 18 and is entrusted to the actor's care by authority of law or is the actor's child, grandchild, foster child, adopted child, or stepchild.

(e) No person shall engage in a sexual act with a child under the age of 16 if:

(1) the victim is entrusted to the actor's care by authority of law or is the actor's child, grandchild, foster child, adopted child, or stepchild; or

(2) the actor is at least 18 years of age, resides in the victim's household, and serves in a parental role with respect to the victim.

(f)(1) A person who violates subsection (a), (b), (d), or (e) of this section shall be imprisoned not less than three years and for a maximum term of life, and, in addition, may be fined not more than $25,000.00.

(2) A person who violates subsection (c) of this section shall be imprisoned for not more than 20 years, and, in addition, may be fined not more than $10,000.00.

(g) A person convicted of violating subsection (a), (b), (d), or (e) of this section shall be sentenced under section 3271 of this title.

3253. Aggravated sexual assault

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) A person commits the crime of aggravated sexual assault if the person commits sexual assault under any one of the following circumstances:

(1) At the time of the sexual assault, the actor causes serious bodily injury to the victim or to another.

(2) The actor is joined or assisted by one or more persons in physically restraining, assaulting or sexually assaulting the victim.

(3) The actor commits the sexual act under circumstances which constitute the crime of kidnapping.

(4) The actor has previously been convicted in this state of sexual assault under subsection 3252(a) or (b) of this title or aggravated sexual assault or has been convicted in any jurisdiction in the United States or territories of an offense which would constitute sexual assault under subsection 3252(a) or (b) of this title or aggravated sexual assault if committed in this state.

(5) At the time of the sexual assault, the actor is armed with a deadly weapon and uses or threatens to use the deadly weapon on the victim or on another.

(6) At the time of the sexual assault, the actor threatens to cause imminent serious bodily injury to the victim or to another and the victim reasonably believes that the actor has the present ability to carry out the threat.

(7) At the time of the sexual assault, the actor applies deadly force to the victim.

(8) The victim is under the age of 13 and the actor is at least 18 years of age.

(9) The victim is subjected by the actor to repeated nonconsensual sexual acts as part of the same occurrence or the victim is subjected to repeated nonconsensual sexual acts as part of the actor's common scheme and plan.

(b) A person who commits the crime of aggravated sexual assault shall be imprisoned not less than ten years and a maximum term of life, and, in addition, may be fined not more than $50,000.00.

(c)(1) Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, a sentence ordered pursuant to subsection (b) of this section shall include at least a ten-year term of imprisonment. The ten-year term of imprisonment required by this subdivision shall be served and may not be suspended, deferred, or served as a supervised sentence. The defendant shall not be eligible for probation, parole, furlough, or any other type of early release until the expiration of the five-year or ten-year term of imprisonment.

(2) The court may depart downwardly from the ten-year term of imprisonment required by subsection (b) of this section and impose a lesser term of incarceration if the court makes written findings on the record that the downward departure will serve the interests of justice and public safety, provided that in no event may the court impose a term of incarceration of less than five years.

(d) A person convicted of violating this section shall be sentenced under section 3271 of this title.

3253a. Aggravated sexual assault of a child

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) A person commits the crime of aggravated sexual assault of a child if the actor is at least 18 years of age and commits sexual assault against a child under the age of 16 in violation of section 3252 of this title and at least one of the following circumstances exists:

(1) At the time of the sexual assault, the actor causes serious bodily injury to the victim or to another.

(2) The actor is joined or assisted by one or more persons in physically restraining, assaulting, or sexually assaulting the victim.

(3) The actor commits the sexual act under circumstances which constitute the crime of kidnapping.

(4) The actor has previously been convicted in this state of sexual assault under subsection 3252(a) or (b) of this title, aggravated sexual assault under section 3253 of this title, or aggravated sexual assault of a child under this section, or has been convicted in any jurisdiction in the United States or territories of an offense which would constitute sexual assault under subsection 3252(a) or (b) of this title, aggravated sexual assault under section 3253 of this title, or aggravated sexual assault of a child under this section if committed in this state.

(5) At the time of the sexual assault, the actor is armed with a deadly weapon and uses or threatens to use the deadly weapon on the victim or on another.

(6) At the time of the sexual assault, the actor threatens to cause imminent serious bodily injury to the victim or to another, and the victim reasonably believes that the actor has the present ability to carry out the threat.

(7) At the time of the sexual assault, the actor applies deadly force to the victim.

(8) The victim is subjected by the actor to repeated nonconsensual sexual acts as part of the same occurrence or the victim is subjected to repeated nonconsensual sexual acts as part of the actor's common scheme and plan.

(b) A person who commits the crime of aggravated sexual assault of a child shall be imprisoned for not less than 25 years with a maximum term of life, and, in addition, may be fined not more than $50,000.00. The 25-year term of imprisonment required by this subsection shall be served and may not be suspended, deferred, or served as a supervised sentence. The defendant shall not be eligible for probation, parole, furlough, or any other type of early release until the expiration of the 25-year term of imprisonment.

3257. Sexual exploitation of an inmate

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) No correctional employee, contractor, or other person providing services to offenders on behalf of the department of corrections or pursuant to a court order or in accordance with a condition of parole, probation, supervised community sentence, or furlough shall engage in a sexual act with a person who the employee, contractor, or other person providing services knows:

(1) is confined to a correctional facility; or

(2) is being supervised by the department of corrections while on parole, probation, supervised community sentence, or furlough, where the employee, contractor, or other service provider is currently engaged in a direct supervisory relationship with the person being supervised. For purposes of this subdivision, a person is engaged in a direct supervisory relationship with a supervisee if the supervisee is assigned to the caseload of that person.

(b) A person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be imprisoned for not more than five years or fined not more than $10,000.00, or both.

3258. Sexual exploitation of a minor

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) No person shall engage in a sexual act with a minor if:

(1) the actor is at least 48 months older than the minor; and

(2) the actor is in a position of power, authority, or supervision over the minor by virtue of the actor's undertaking the responsibility, professionally or voluntarily, to provide for the health or welfare of minors, or guidance, leadership, instruction, or organized recreational activities for minors.

(b) A person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be imprisoned for not more than one year or fined not more than $2,000.00, or both.

(c) A person who violates subsection (a) of this section and who abuses his or her position of power, authority, or supervision over the minor in order to engage in a sexual act shall be imprisoned for not more than five years or fined not more than $10,000.00, or both.

Chapter 85. Weapons

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Subchapter 2. Extreme Risk Protection Orders

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

4053. Petition for extreme risk protection order

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) A State's Attorney or the Office of the Attorney General may file a petition requesting that the court issue an extreme risk protection order prohibiting a person from purchasing, possessing, or receiving a dangerous weapon or having a dangerous weapon within the person's custody or control. The petitioner shall submit an affidavit in support of the petition.

(b) Except as provided in section 4054 of this title, the court shall grant relief only after notice to the respondent and a hearing. The petitioner shall have the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence.

(c)(1) A petition filed pursuant to this section shall allege that the respondent poses an extreme risk of causing harm to himself or herself or another person by purchasing, possessing, or receiving a dangerous weapon or by having a dangerous weapon within the respondent's custody or control.

(2)(A) An extreme risk of harm to others may be shown by establishing that:

(i) the respondent has inflicted or attempted to inflict bodily harm on another; or

(ii) by his or her threats or actions the respondent has placed others in reasonable fear of physical harm to themselves; or

(iii) by his or her actions or inactions the respondent has presented a danger to persons in his or her care.

(B) An extreme risk of harm to himself or herself may be shown by establishing that the respondent has threatened or attempted suicide or serious bodily harm.

(3) The affidavit in support of the petition shall state:

(A) the specific facts supporting the allegations in the petition;

(B) any dangerous weapons the petitioner believes to be in the respondent's possession, custody, or control; and

(C) whether the petitioner knows of an existing order with respect to the respondent under 15 V.S.A. chapter 21 (abuse prevention orders) or 12 V.S.A. chapter 178 (orders against stalking or sexual assault).

(d) The court shall hold a hearing within 14 days after a petition is filed under this section. Notice of the hearing shall be served pursuant to section 4056 of this title concurrently with the petition and any ex parte order issued under section 4054 of this title.

(e)(1) The court shall grant the petition and issue an extreme risk protection order if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent poses an extreme risk of causing harm to himself or herself or another person by purchasing, possessing, or receiving a dangerous weapon or by having a dangerous weapon within the respondent's custody or control.

(2) An order issued under this subsection shall prohibit a person from purchasing, possessing, or receiving a dangerous weapon or having a dangerous weapon within the person's custody or control for a period of up to six months. The order shall be signed by the judge and include the following provisions:

(A) A statement of the grounds for issuance of the order;

(B) The name and address of the court where any filings should be made, the names of the parties, the date of the petition, the date and time of the order, and the date and time the order expires;

(C) A description of how to appeal the order;

(D) A description of the requirements for relinquishment of dangerous weapons under section 4059 of this title;

(E) A description of how to request termination of the order under section 4055 of this title. The court shall include with the order a form for a motion to terminate the order;

(F) A statement directing the law enforcement agency, approved federally licensed firearms dealer, or other person in possession of the firearm to release it to the owner upon expiration of the order; and

(G) A statement in substantially the following form:

“To the subject of this protection order: This order shall be in effect until the date and time stated above. If you have not done so already, you are required to surrender all dangerous weapons in your custody, control, or possession to [insert name of law enforcement agency], a federally licensed firearms dealer, or a person approved by the court. While this order is in effect, you are not allowed to purchase, possess, or receive a dangerous weapon; attempt to purchase, possess, or receive a dangerous weapon; or have a dangerous weapon in your custody or control. You have the right to request one hearing to terminate this order during the period that this order is in effect, starting from the date of this order. You may seek the advice of an attorney regarding any matter connected with this order.”

(f) If the court denies a petition filed under this section, the court shall state the particular reasons for the denial in its decision.

(g) No filing fee shall be required for a petition filed under this section.

(h) Form petitions and form orders shall be provided by the Court Administrator and shall be maintained by the clerks of the courts.

(i) When findings are required under this section, the court shall make either written findings of fact or oral findings of fact on the record.

(j) Every final order issued under this section shall bear the following language: “VIOLATION OF THIS ORDER IS A CRIME SUBJECT TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE, OR BOTH, AS PROVIDED BY 13 V.S.A. § 4058, AND MAY ALSO BE PROSECUTED AS CRIMINAL CONTEMPT PUNISHABLE BY FINE OR IMPRISONMENT, OR BOTH.”

(k) Affidavit forms required pursuant to this section shall bear the following language: “MAKING A FALSE STATEMENT IN THIS AFFIDAVIT IS A CRIME SUBJECT TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE, OR BOTH, AS PROVIDED BY 13 V.S.A. § 4058.”

Title Fifteen. Domestic Relations

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Chapter 5. Desertion and Support

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Subchapter 3A. Parentage Proceedings

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

308. Presumption of parentage

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

A person alleged to be a parent shall be rebuttably presumed to be the natural parent of a child if:

(1) the alleged parent fails to submit without good cause to genetic testing as ordered; or

(2) the alleged parents have voluntarily acknowledged parentage under the laws of this State or any other state, by filling out and signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage form and filing the completed and witnessed form with the Department of Health; or

(3) the probability that the alleged parent is the biological parent exceeds 98 percent as established by a scientifically reliable genetic test; or

(4) the child is born while the alleged parents are legally married to each other.

Chapter 11. Annulment and Divorce

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Subchapter 2. Divorce

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

551. Grounds for divorce from bond of matrimony

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

A divorce from the bond of matrimony may be decreed:

(1) for adultery in either party;

(2) when either party is sentenced to confinement at hard labor in the State prison in this State for life, or for three years or more, and is actually confined at the time of the bringing of the libel; or when either party being without the State, receives a sentence for an equally long term of imprisonment by a competent court having jurisdiction as the result of a trial in any one of the other states of the United States, or in a federal court, or in any one of the territories, possessions or other courts subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, or in a foreign country granting a trial by jury, and is actually confined at the time of the bringing of the libel;

(3) for intolerable severity in either party;

(4) for willful desertion or when either party has been absent for seven years and not heard of during that time;

(5) on complaint of either party when one spouse has sufficient pecuniary or physical ability to provide suitable maintenance for the other and, without cause, persistently refuses or neglects so to do;

(6) on the ground of permanent incapacity due to a mental condition or psychiatric disability of either party, as provided for in sections 631-637 of this title;

(7) when a married person has lived apart from his or her spouse for six consecutive months and the Court finds that the resumption of marital relations is not reasonably probable.

Subchapter 3A. Child Custody and Support

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

650. Legislative findings and purpose

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

The legislature finds and declares as public policy that after parents have separated or dissolved their marriage it is in the best interests of their minor child to have the opportunity for maximum continuing physical and emotional contact with both parents, unless direct physical harm or significant emotional harm to the child or a parent is likely to result from such contact. The legislature further finds and declares as public policy that parents have the responsibility to provide child support and that child support orders should reflect the true costs of raising children and approximate insofar as possible the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the family remained intact.

654. Support guideline

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

The secretary of human services shall prescribe by rule a guideline for child support which reflects the percent of combined available income which parents living in the same household in Vermont ordinarily spend on their children. The rule shall be based on the concept that children should receive the same proportion of parental income after separation or divorce of their parents as they would receive if their parents were living together in one household. The rule shall be based on the financial needs of Vermont children, established by such reliable data as most accurately reflect their needs. The amounts of child support determined under the guideline shall be expressed in dollars and shall be presumed to be the total support obligation of parents. The secretary may amend the guideline from time to time as may be necessary, but not less than once every four years. The secretary shall also prepare and make available forms suitable for calculating amounts payable under this section.

655. Total child support obligation

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

In any proceeding to establish or modify child support, the total support obligation shall be presumed to be the amount of child support needed, from which a parental support obligation shall be calculated and ordered to be paid unless support is established under section 659 of this title. The court shall review the adequacy of a child support amount agreed to by the parties with reference to the total support obligation.

657. Shared or split physical custody

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) When each parent exercises physical custody for 30 percent or more of a calendar year, the total child support obligation shall be increased by 50 percent to reflect the additional costs of maintaining two households. Each parental support obligation shall be determined by dividing the total support obligation between the parents in proportion to their respective available incomes and in proportion to the amount of time each parent exercises physical custody. The parental support obligations shall then be offset, with the parent owing the larger amount being required to pay the difference between the two amounts to the other parent.

(b) When one parent exercises physical custody for 25 percent or more but less than 30 percent of a calendar year, each parent's respective share of the total support obligation shall be determined in accordance with a shared costs table adopted by the agency of human services by rule. The shared costs table shall be developed in such a way as to minimize economic disputes over parent-child contact or visitation and shall reflect the additional costs of maintaining two households by increasing the total support obligation by 50 percent.

(c) In no event shall a parent be required to pay child support under subsection (a) or (b) of this section in an amount greater than the amount that would have been ordered under the support guidelines.

(d) For purposes of this section, “physical custody” means keeping the children overnight. The parent having custody for the greater period of time shall be considered the custodial parent for the purposes of section 661 of this title.

(e) When each parent has physical custody of at least one of the children, a theoretical support payment shall be determined for each parent for the children in the custody of the other, prorating the obligations among all children in the household. The obligations shall then be offset, with the parent owing the larger amount being required to pay the difference between the two amounts to the other parent.

660. Modification

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a)(1) On motion of either parent, the Office of Child Support, any other person to whom support has previously been granted, or any person previously charged with support, and upon a showing of a real, substantial and unanticipated change of circumstances, the court may annul, vary, or modify a child support order, whether or not the order is based upon a stipulation or agreement. If the child support order has not been modified by the court for at least three years, the court may waive the requirement of a showing of a real, substantial, and unanticipated change of circumstances.

(2) The Office of Child Support may independently file a motion to modify child support or change payee if providing services under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, if a party is or will be incarcerated for more than 90 days, if the family has reunited or is living together, if the child is no longer living with the payee, or if a party receives means-tested benefits.

(b) A child support order, including an order in effect prior to adoption of the support guideline, which varies more than ten percent from the amounts required to be paid under the support guideline, shall be considered a real, substantial, and unanticipated change of circumstances.

(c) The following shall be considered a real, substantial, and unanticipated change of circumstances:

(1) Receipt of workers' compensation, disability benefits, or means-tested public assistance benefits.

(2) Unemployment compensation, unless the period of unemployment was considered when the child support order was established.

(3) Incarceration for more than 90 days, unless incarceration is for failure to pay child support.

(d) A motion to modify a support order under subsection (b) or (c) of this section shall be accompanied by an affidavit setting forth calculations demonstrating entitlement to modification and shall be served on other parties and filed with the court. Upon proof of service, and if the calculations demonstrate cause for modification, the magistrate shall enter an order modifying the support award in accordance with the calculations provided, unless within 15 days of service of, or receipt of, the request for modification, either party requests a hearing. The court shall conduct a hearing within 20 days of the request. No order shall be modified without a hearing if one is requested.

(e) An order may be modified only as to future support installments and installments which accrued subsequent to the date of notice of the motion to the other party or parties. The date the motion for modification is filed shall be deemed to be the date of notice to the opposing party or parties.

(f) Upon motion of the court or upon motion of the Office of Child Support, the court may deem arrears judicially unenforceable in cases where there is no longer a duty of support, provided the court finds all of the following:

(1) The obligor is presently unable to pay through no fault of his or her own.

(2) The obligor currently has no known income or has only nominal assets.

(3) There is no reasonable prospect that the obligor will be able to pay in the foreseeable future.

(g) Upon motion of an obligee or the Office of Child Support, the court may set aside a judgment that arrears are judicially unenforceable based on newly discovered evidence or a showing of a real, substantial, and unanticipated change in circumstances, provided the court finds any of the following:

(1) The obligor is presently able to pay.

(2) The obligor has income or has only nominal assets.

(3) There is a reasonable prospect that the obligor will be able to pay in the foreseeable future.

664. Definitions

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

As used in this subchapter:

(1) “Parental rights and responsibilities” means the rights and responsibilities related to a child's physical living arrangements, parent child contact, education, medical and dental care, religion, travel and any other matter involving a child's welfare and upbringing.

(A) “Legal responsibility” means the rights and responsibilities to determine and control various matters affecting a child's welfare and upbringing, other than routine daily care and control of the child. These matters include but are not limited to education, medical and dental care, religion and travel arrangements. Legal responsibility may be held solely or may be divided or shared.

(B) “Physical responsibility” means the rights and responsibilities to provide routine daily care and control of the child subject to the right of the other parent to have contact with the child. Physical responsibility may be held solely or may be divided or shared.

(2) “Parent child contact” means the right of a parent who does not have physical responsibility to have visitation with the child.

665. Rights and responsibilities order; best interests of the child

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) In an action under this chapter, the Court shall make an order concerning parental rights and responsibilities of any minor child of the parties. The Court may order parental rights and responsibilities to be divided or shared between the parents on such terms and conditions as serve the best interests of the child. When the parents cannot agree to divide or share parental rights and responsibilities, the Court shall award parental rights and responsibilities primarily or solely to one parent.
(b) In making an order under this section, the Court shall be guided by the best interests of the child, and shall consider at least the following factors:
(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, as defined in section 1101 of this title, and the impact of the abuse on the child and on the relationship between the child and the abusing parent.
(c) The Court shall not apply a preference for one parent over the other because of the sex of the child, the sex of a parent or the financial resources of a parent.
(d) The Court may order a parent who is awarded responsibility for a certain matter involving a child's welfare to inform the other parent when a major change in that matter occurs.
(e) The jurisdiction granted by this section shall be limited by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, if another state has jurisdiction as provided in that act. For the purposes of interpreting that act and any other provision of law which refers to a custodial parent, including 13 V.S.A. § 2451, the parent with physical responsibility shall be considered the custodial parent.
(f) The State has a compelling interest in not forcing a victim of sexual assault or sexual exploitation to continue an ongoing relationship with the perpetrator of the abuse. Such continued interaction can have traumatic psychological effects on the victim, making recovery more difficult, and negatively affect the victim's ability to parent and to provide for the best interests of the child. Additionally, the State recognizes that a perpetrator may use the threat of pursuing parental rights and responsibilities to coerce a victim into not reporting or not assisting in the prosecution of the perpetrator for the sexual assault or sexual exploitation, or to harass, intimidate, or manipulate the victim.
(1) The court may enter an order awarding sole parental rights and responsibilities to a parent and denying all parent-child contact with the other parent if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the nonmoving parent was convicted of sexually assaulting the moving parent and the child was conceived as a result of the sexual assault. As used in this subdivision, sexual assault shall include sexual assault as provided in 13 V.S.A. § 3252(a), (b), (d), and (e), aggravated sexual assault as provided in 13 V.S.A. § 3253, aggravated sexual assault of a child as provided in 13 V.S.A. § 3253a, lewd and lascivious conduct with a child as provided in 13 V.S.A. § 2602, and similar offenses in other jurisdictions.
(2) The court may enter an order awarding sole parental rights and responsibilities to one parent and denying all parent-child contact between the other parent and a child if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the child was conceived as a result of the nonmoving parent sexually assaulting or sexually exploiting the moving parent and the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that such an order is in the best interest of the child. A conviction is not required under this subdivision, and the court may consider other evidence of sexual assault or sexual exploitation in making its determination.
For purposes of this subdivision (f)(2):
(A) sexual assault shall include sexual assault as provided in 13 V.S.A. § 3252, aggravated sexual assault as provided in 13 V.S.A. § 3253, aggravated sexual assault of a child as provided in 13 V.S.A. § 3253a, lewd and lascivious conduct with a child as provided in 13 V.S.A. § 2602, and similar offenses in other jurisdictions; and
(B) sexual exploitation shall include sexual exploitation of an inmate as provided in 13 V.S.A. § 3257, sexual exploitation of a minor as provided in 13 V.S.A. § 3258, sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult as provided in 13 V.S.A. § 1379, and similar offenses in other jurisdictions.
(3) Issuance of an order pursuant to this subsection shall not affect the right of the custodial parent to seek child support from the noncustodial parent.
(4) Upon issuance of a rights and responsibilities order pursuant to this subsection, the court shall not issue a parent-child contact order and shall terminate any existing parent-child contact order concerning the child and the nonmoving parent. An order issued in accordance with this subdivision shall be permanent and shall not be subject to modification.

666. Agreements between parents

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) Any agreement between the parents which divides or shares parental rights and responsibilities shall be presumed to be in the best interests of the child.

(b) An agreement between the parties which is a complete agreement on parental rights and responsibilities shall include provisions that address at least the following:

(1) physical living arrangements;

(2) parent child contact;

(3) education of the minor child;

(4) medical, dental and health care;

(5) travel arrangements;

(6) procedures for communicating about the child's welfare; and

(7) if parental rights and responsibilities are to be shared or divided, procedures for resolving disputes. Such procedures may include but shall not be limited to mediation and binding arbitration.

(c) If the court finds that an agreement between the parents is not in the best interests of the child or if the court finds that an agreement was not reached voluntarily the court shall refuse to approve the agreement.

668. Modification of order

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) On motion of either parent or any other person to whom custody or parental rights and responsibilities have previously been granted, and upon a showing of real, substantial and unanticipated change of circumstances, the Court may annul, vary, or modify an order made under this subchapter if it is in the best interests of the child, whether or not the order is based upon a stipulation or agreement.

(b) Whenever a judgment for physical responsibility is modified, the court shall order a child support modification hearing to be set and notice to be given to the parties. Unless good cause is shown to the contrary, the court shall simultaneously issue a temporary order pending the modification hearing, if adjustments to those portions of any existing child support order or wage withholding order that pertain to any child affected by the modification are necessary to assure that support and wages are paid in amounts proportional to the modified allocation of responsibility between the parties.

(c) A final order related to parental rights and responsibilities and parent child contact issued pursuant to subdivision 665(f)(1) of this title shall not be subject to modification. A party may file a motion for modification of an order related to parental rights and responsibilities and parent child contact issued pursuant to subdivision 665(f)(2) of this title only upon a showing of extraordinary, real, substantial, and unanticipated change of circumstances.

Subchapter 3. Proceedings Generally

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Article 1. General Provisions

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

592. Residence

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) A complaint for divorce or annulment of civil marriage may be brought if either party to the marriage has resided within the State for a period of six months or more, but a divorce shall not be decreed for any cause, unless the plaintiff or the defendant has resided in the State one year next preceding the date of final hearing. Temporary absence from the State because of illness, employment without the State, service as a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, or other legitimate and bona fide cause shall not affect the six months' period or the one-year period specified in the preceding sentence, provided the person has otherwise retained residence in this State.

(b) Notwithstanding provisions to the contrary, a complaint for divorce may be filed in the Family Division of Superior Court in the county in which the marriage certificate was filed by parties who are not residents of Vermont provided all of the following criteria are met:

(1) The marriage was established in Vermont.

(2) Neither party's state of legal residence recognizes the couple's Vermont marriage for purposes of divorce.

(3) There are no minor children who were born or adopted during the marriage.

(4) The parties file a stipulation together with a complaint that resolves all issues in the divorce action. The stipulation shall be signed by both parties and shall include the following terms:

(A) An agreement that the terms and conditions of the stipulation may be incorporated into a final order of divorce.

(B) The facts upon which the Court may base a decree of divorce and that bring the matter before the Court's jurisdiction.

(C) An acknowledgment that:

(i) Each party understands that if he or she wishes to litigate any issue related to the divorce before a Vermont court, one of the parties must meet the residency requirement set forth in subsection (a) of this section.

(ii) Neither party is the subject of an abuse prevention order in a proceeding between the parties.

(iii) There are no minor children who were born or adopted during the marriage.

(iv) Neither party's state of legal residence recognizes the couple's Vermont marriage for purposes of divorce.

(v) Each party has entered into the stipulation freely and voluntarily.

(vi) the parties have exchanged all financial information, including income, assets, and liabilities.

(c) The Court shall waive a final hearing on any divorce action filed pursuant to subsection (b) of this section unless the Court determines upon review of the complaint and stipulation that the filing is incomplete or that a hearing is warranted for the purpose of clarifying a provision of the stipulation. Final uncontested hearings in a nonresident divorce action shall be conducted by telephone unless one or both of the parties choose to appear in person.

Subchapter 6. Property Settlement; Maintenance

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

752. Maintenance

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) In an action under this chapter, the court may order either spouse to make maintenance payments, either rehabilitative or permanent in nature, to the other spouse if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance:

(1) lacks sufficient income or property, or both, including property apportioned in accordance with section 751 of this title, to provide for his or her reasonable needs; and

(2) is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment at the standard of living established during the civil marriage or is the custodian of a child of the parties.

(b) The maintenance order shall be in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, after considering all relevant factors, including:

(1) the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, the property apportioned to the party, the party's ability to meet his or her needs independently, and the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party contains a sum for that party as custodian;

(2) the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment;

(3) the standard of living established during the civil marriage;

(4) the duration of the civil marriage;

(5) the age and the physical and emotional condition of each spouse;

(6) the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her reasonable needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance;

(7) inflation with relation to the cost of living; and

(8) the following guidelines: [please see guidelines chart on the state legislature's website].

Chapter 18. Grandparents' Visitation

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

1011. Jurisdiction

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) A court which has considered or is considering the custody or visitation of a minor child may award visitation rights to a grandparent of the child, upon written request of the grandparent filed with the court, if the court finds that to do so would be in the best interest of the child.

(b) No grandparent shall be afforded party status, but may be called as a witness by the court, and shall be subject to cross-examination by the parties.

(c) No appeal may be taken by any grandparent from the court's decision on visitation as it pertains to any grandparent.

(d) A grandparent who has visitation rights under this section may move the court for enforcement of the court's order in the same manner as would a party. A hearing shall be held thereon, and notice thereof shall be given to the parties pursuant to the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure.

1012. If a parent is deceased or cannot decide

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

If a parent of a minor child is deceased, physically or mentally incapable of making a decision or has abandoned the child, a grandparent of the child may commence an action in superior court in the county in which the custodian of the child resides to obtain visitation rights. The action shall promptly be tried without a jury in the same manner as a divorce case. The custodian of the child shall be the party defendant. In the event that the custodian of the child is not the parent of the child, the parent shall also be joined as a party defendant.

1013. Decision

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) The court shall grant the petitioner reasonable visitation or access to the grandchild upon determining that to do so would be in the best interests of the child.

(b) In determining the best interests of the child, the court shall consider the following factors:

(1) the love, affection and other emotional ties existing between the grandparents involved and the child;

(2) the capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection and guidance;

(3) the nature of the relationship between the petitioner and the grandchild and the desirability of maintaining that relationship;

(4) the moral fitness of the parties;

(5) the mental and physical health of the parties;

(6) the reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference;

(7) the willingness and ability of the petitioner to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parties; and

(8) any other factor which the court considers to be relevant to a just determination regarding visitation or access.

1015. Limit on refiling

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Absent a real, substantial and unanticipated change of circumstances, no person whose petition under this section is denied with prejudice may file another petition under this section sooner than one year after that denial.

Chapter 20. Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Subchapter 2. Jurisdiction

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

1077. Inconvenient forum

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) A Vermont court which has jurisdiction under this chapter to make a child custody determination may decline to exercise its jurisdiction at any time if it determines that it is an inconvenient forum under the circumstances, and that a court of another state is a more appropriate forum. The issue of inconvenient forum may be raised upon motion of a party, the court's own motion, or a request of another court.

(b) Before determining whether it is an inconvenient forum, a Vermont court shall consider whether it is appropriate for a court of another state to exercise jurisdiction. For this purpose, the court shall allow the parties to submit information and shall consider all relevant factors, including:

(1) whether domestic violence has occurred and is likely to continue in the future and which state could best protect the parties and the child;

(2) the length of time the child has resided outside Vermont;

(3) the distance between the Vermont court and the court in the state that would assume jurisdiction;

(4) the relative financial circumstances of the parties;

(5) any agreement of the parties as to which state should assume jurisdiction;

(6) the nature and location of the evidence required to resolve the pending litigation, including testimony of the child;

(7) the ability of the court of each state to decide the issue expeditiously and the procedures necessary to present the evidence; and

(8) the familiarity of the court of each state with the facts and issues in the pending litigation.

(c) If a Vermont court determines that it is an inconvenient forum, and that a court of another state is a more appropriate forum, it shall stay the proceedings upon condition that a child custody proceeding be promptly commenced in another designated state and may impose any other condition the court considers just and proper.

(d) A Vermont court may decline to exercise its jurisdiction under this chapter if a child custody determination is incidental to an action for divorce or another proceeding while still retaining jurisdiction over the divorce or other proceeding.

Chapter 21. Abuse Prevention

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Subchapter 1: General Provisions

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

1101. Definitions

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

The following words as used in this chapter shall have the following meanings:

(1) “Abuse” means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members:

(A) Attempting to cause or causing physical harm.

(B) Placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm.

(C) Abuse to children as defined in subchapter 2 of chapter 49 of Title 33.

(D) Stalking as defined in 12 V.S.A. § 5131(6).

(E) Sexual assault as defined in 12 V.S.A. § 5131(5).

(2) “Household members” means persons who, for any period of time, are living or have lived together, are sharing or have shared occupancy of a dwelling, are engaged in or have engaged in a sexual relationship, or minors or adults who are dating or who have dated. “Dating” means a social relationship of a romantic nature. Factors that the court may consider when determining whether a dating relationship exists or existed include:

(A) the nature of the relationship;

(B) the length of time the relationship has existed;

(C) the frequency of interaction between the parties;

(D) the length of time since the relationship was terminated, if applicable.

(3) A “foreign abuse prevention order” means any protection order issued by the court of any other state that contains provisions similar to relief provisions authorized under this chapter, the Vermont Rules for Family Proceedings, chapter 69 of Title 33, or chapter 178 of Title 12.

(4) “Other state” and “issuing state” shall mean any state other than Vermont and any federally recognized Indian tribe, territory or possession of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or the District of Columbia.

(5) A “protection order” means any injunction or other order issued for the purpose of preventing violent or threatening acts or harassment against, or contact or communication with or physical proximity to, another person, including temporary and final orders issued by civil and criminal courts, other than support or child custody orders, whether obtained by filing an independent action or as a pendente lite order in another proceeding so long as any civil order was issued in response to a complaint, petition or motion filed by or on behalf of a person seeking protection.

(6) Repealed by 2015, No. 23, § 152, eff. July 1, 2015.

1102. Jurisdiction and venue

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) The family division of the superior court shall have jurisdiction over proceedings under this chapter.

(b) Emergency orders under section 1104 of this title may be issued by a judge of the criminal, civil, or family division of the superior court.

(c) Proceedings under this chapter may be commenced in the county in which the plaintiff resides. If the plaintiff has left the residence or household to avoid abuse, the plaintiff shall have the option to bring an action in the county of the previous residence or household or the county of the new residence or household.

1103. Requests for relief

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) Any family or household member may seek relief from abuse by another family or household member on behalf of him- or herself or his or her children by filing a complaint under this chapter. A minor 16 years of age or older, or a minor of any age who is in a dating relationship as defined in subdivision 1101(2) of this chapter, may file a complaint under this chapter seeking relief on his or her own behalf. The plaintiff shall submit an affidavit in support of the order.
(b) Except as provided in section 1104 of this title, the Court shall grant relief only after notice to the defendant and a hearing. The plaintiff shall have the burden of proving abuse by a preponderance of the evidence.
(c)(1) The court shall make such orders as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff or the children, or both, if the court finds that the defendant has abused the plaintiff, and:
(A) there is a danger of further abuse; or
(B) the defendant is currently incarcerated and has been convicted of one of the following: murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, stalking, aggravated stalking, lewd or lascivious conduct with a child, use of a child in a sexual performance, or consenting to a sexual performance.
(2) The court order may include the following:
(A) an order that the defendant refrain from abusing the plaintiff or his or her children, or both, and from interfering with their personal liberty, including restrictions on the defendant's ability to contact the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children, or both, in any way, whether directly, indirectly, or through a third party, with the purpose of making contact with the plaintiff, including in writing or by telephone, e-mail, or other electronic communication, and restrictions prohibiting the defendant from coming within a fixed distance of the plaintiff, the children, the plaintiff's residence, or other designated locations where the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children are likely to spend time;
(B) an order that the defendant immediately vacate the household and that the plaintiff be awarded sole possession of a residence;
(C) a temporary award of parental rights and responsibilities in accordance with the criteria in section 665 of this title;
(D) an order for parent-child contact under such conditions as are necessary to protect the child or the plaintiff, or both, from abuse. An order for parent-child contact may if necessary include conditions under which the plaintiff may deny parent-child contact pending further order of the court;
(E) if the Court finds that the defendant has a duty to support the plaintiff, an order that the defendant pay the plaintiff's living expenses for a fixed period of time not to exceed three months;
(F) if the Court finds that the defendant has a duty to support the child or children, a temporary order of child support pursuant to chapter 5 of this title, for a period not to exceed three months. A support order granted under this section may be extended if the relief from abuse proceeding is consolidated with an action for legal separation, divorce, or parentage;
(G) an order concerning the possession, care, and control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held as a pet by either party or a minor child residing in the household; and
(H) an order that the defendant return any personal documentation in his or her possession, including immigration documentation, birth certificates, and identification cards:
(i) pertaining to the plaintiff; or
(ii) pertaining to the plaintiff's children if relief is sought for the children or for good cause shown.
(d) In a hearing under this chapter, neither opinion evidence of nor evidence of the reputation of the plaintiff's sexual conduct shall be admitted. Evidence of prior sexual conduct of the plaintiff shall not be admitted; provided, however, where it bears on the credibility of the plaintiff or it is material to a fact at issue and its probative value outweighs its private character, the court may admit:
(1) Evidence of the plaintiff's past sexual conduct with the defendant.
(2) Evidence of specific instances of the plaintiff's sexual conduct showing the source of origin of semen, pregnancy, or disease.
(3) Evidence of specific instances of the plaintiff's past false allegations of violations of 13 V.S.A. chapter 59 or 72.
(e) Relief shall be granted for a fixed period, at the expiration of which time the Court may extend any order, upon motion of the plaintiff, for such additional time as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff, the children, or both, from abuse. It is not necessary for the Court to find that abuse has occurred during the pendency of the order to extend the terms of the order. The Court may modify its order at any subsequent time upon motion by either party and a showing of a substantial change in circumstance.
(f) No filing fee shall be required.
(g) Every order under this chapter shall contain the name of the Court, the names of the parties, the date of the petition, the date and time of the order, and shall be signed by the judge.
(h) Form complaints and form orders shall be provided by the Court Administrator and shall be maintained by the clerks of the courts.
(i) When findings are required under this section, the Court shall make either written findings of fact or oral findings of fact on the record.
(j) Every final order issued under this section shall bear the following language: “VIOLATION OF THIS ORDER IS A CRIME SUBJECT TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE, OR BOTH, AND MAY ALSO BE PROSECUTED AS CRIMINAL CONTEMPT PUNISHABLE BY FINE OR IMPRISONMENT, OR BOTH.”
(k) Affidavit forms required pursuant to this section shall bear the following language: “MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS IN THIS AFFIDAVIT IS A CRIME SUBJECT TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE, OR BOTH, AS PROVIDED BY 13 V.S.A. § 2904.”

1104. Emergency relief

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) In accordance with the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure, temporary orders under this chapter may be issued ex parte, without notice to the defendant, upon motion and findings by the court that the defendant has abused the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children, or both. The plaintiff shall submit an affidavit in support of the order. A minor 16 years of age or older, or a minor of any age who is in a dating relationship as defined in subdivision 1101(2) of this chapter, may seek relief on his or her own behalf. Relief under this section shall be limited as follows:
(1) Upon a finding that there is an immediate danger of further abuse, an order may be granted requiring the defendant:
(A) to refrain from abusing the plaintiff or his or her children, or both, or from cruelly treating as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 352 or 352a or killing any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held as a pet by either party or by a minor child residing in the household;
(B) to refrain from interfering with the plaintiff's personal liberty or the personal liberty of the plaintiff's children, or both;
(C) to refrain from coming within a fixed distance of the plaintiff, the plaintiff's children, the plaintiff's residence, or the plaintiff's place of employment; and
(D) to refrain from contacting the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children, or both, in any way, whether directly, indirectly, or through a third party, with the purpose of making contact with the plaintiff, including in writing or by telephone, e-mail, or other electronic communication.
(2) Upon a finding that the plaintiff, his or her children, or both have been forced from the household and will be without shelter unless the defendant is ordered to vacate the premises, the Court may order the defendant to vacate immediately the household and may order sole possession of the premises to the plaintiff.
(3) Upon a finding that there is immediate danger of physical or emotional harm to minor children, the Court may award temporary custody of these minor children to the plaintiff or to other persons.
(b) Every order issued under this section shall contain the name of the court, the names of the parties, the date of the petition, and the date and time of the order and shall be signed by the judge. Every order issued under this section shall state upon its face a date, time, and place when the defendant may appear to petition the court for modification or discharge of the order. This opportunity to contest shall be scheduled as soon as reasonably possible, which in no event shall be more than 14 days from the date of issuance of the order. At such hearings, the plaintiff shall have the burden of proving abuse by a preponderance of the evidence. If the court finds that the plaintiff has met his or her burden, it shall continue the order in effect and make such other order as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff.
(c) Form complaints and form orders shall be provided by the Court Administrator and shall be maintained by the clerks of the courts.
(d) Every order issued under this chapter shall bear the following language: “VIOLATION OF THIS ORDER IS A CRIME SUBJECT TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE, OR BOTH, AND MAY ALSO BE PROSECUTED AS CRIMINAL CONTEMPT PUNISHABLE BY FINE OR IMPRISONMENT, OR BOTH.”
(e) Affidavit forms required pursuant to this section shall bear the following language: “MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS IN THIS AFFIDAVIT IS A CRIME SUBJECT TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE, OR BOTH, AS PROVIDED BY 13 V.S.A. § 2904.”

1105. Service

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) A complaint or ex parte temporary order or final order issued under this chapter shall be served in accordance with the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure and may be served by any law enforcement officer.

(b) A defendant who attends a hearing held under section 1103 or 1104 of this title at which a temporary or final order under this chapter is issued and who receives notice from the court on the record that the order has been issued shall be deemed to have been served. A defendant notified by the court on the record shall be required to adhere immediately to the provisions of the order.

(c) Abuse orders shall be served by the law enforcement agency at the earliest possible time and shall take precedence over other summonses and orders. Orders shall be served in a manner calculated to ensure the safety of the plaintiff. Methods of service which include advance notification to the defendant shall not be used. The person making service shall file a return of service with the court stating the date, time, and place at which the order was delivered personally to the defendant.

(d) If service of a notice of hearing issued under section 1103 or 1104 of this title cannot be made before the scheduled hearing, the court shall continue the hearing and extend the terms of the order upon request of the plaintiff for such additional time as it deems necessary to achieve service on the defendant.

1106. Procedure

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) Except as otherwise specified in this chapter, proceedings commenced under this chapter shall be in accordance with the Vermont Rules for Family Proceedings and shall be in addition to any other available civil or criminal remedies.

(b) The court administrator shall establish procedures to insure access to relief after regular court hours, or on weekends and holidays. The court administrator is authorized to contract with public or private agencies to assist plaintiffs to seek relief and to gain access to superior courts. Law enforcement agencies shall assist in carrying out the intent of this section.

(c) The office of the court administrator shall ensure that the superior court has procedures in place so that the contents of orders and pendency of other proceedings can be known to all courts for cases in which an abuse prevention proceeding is related to a criminal proceeding.

1107. Filing orders with law enforcement personnel; department of public safety protection order database

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) Police departments, sheriff's departments, and state police district offices shall establish procedures for filing abuse prevention orders issued under this chapter, chapter 69 of Title 33, chapter 178 of Title 12, protective orders relating to contact with a child issued under section 5115 of Title 33, and foreign abuse prevention orders and for making their personnel aware of the existence and contents of such orders.

(b) Any court in this state that issues an abuse prevention order under section 1104 or 1103 of this chapter, or that files a foreign abuse prevention order in accordance with subsection 1108(d) of this chapter, or that issues a protective order relating to contact with a child under section 5115 of Title 33, shall transmit a copy of the order to the department of public safety protection order database.

1108. Enforcement

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) Law enforcement officers are authorized to enforce orders issued under this chapter. A foreign abuse prevention order shall be accorded full faith and credit throughout this state and shall be enforced as if it were an order of this state. Enforcement may include, but is not limited to:

(1) making an arrest in accordance with the provisions of V.R.Cr.P. 3;

(2) assisting the recipient of an order granting sole possession of the residence to obtain sole possession of the residence if the defendant refuses to leave;

(3) assisting the recipient of an order granting sole custody of children to obtain sole custody of children if the defendant refuses to release them.

(b) A law enforcement officer may rely upon a copy of any order issued under this chapter or any foreign abuse prevention order which has been provided to the law enforcement officer by any source. Law enforcement personnel may rely upon the written and sworn statement of the person protected by the foreign abuse prevention order that the order remains in effect. An officer's reasonable reliance as provided in this subsection shall be a complete defense in any civil action arising in connection with a court's finding under subsection (c) of this section that the order was not enforceable.

(c) A foreign abuse prevention order shall be enforceable in the courts in this state if all the following are satisfied:

(1) The defendant has received notice of the order in compliance with the requirements of the issuing state.

(2) The order is in effect in the issuing state.

(3) The court in the issuing state had jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter under the law of the issuing state.

(4) In the issuing state the law gives reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard to the person against whom the order is sought sufficient to protect that person's right to due process. In the case of ex parte orders, notice and opportunity to be heard must be provided within a reasonable time after the order is issued, sufficient to protect the defendant's due process rights. Failure to provide reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard shall be an affirmative defense to any charge or process filed seeking enforcement of the foreign protection order.

(d) A person entitled to protection under a foreign abuse prevention order may file the foreign abuse prevention order in any family division of the superior court by filing a certified copy of the order with the court. The person shall swear under oath in an affidavit that to the best of the person's knowledge the order is presently in effect as written. Upon inquiry by a law enforcement agency, the clerk of the family division of the superior court shall make a copy of the foreign abuse prevention order available.

(e) In addition to the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, violation of an order issued under this chapter may be prosecuted as a criminal contempt under Rule 42 of Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure. The prosecution for criminal contempt may be initiated by the state's attorney in district or superior court in the unit or county in which the violation occurred. The maximum penalty which may be imposed under this subsection shall be a fine of $1,000.00 or imprisonment for six months, or both. A sentence of imprisonment upon conviction for criminal contempt may be stayed in the discretion of the court pending the expiration of the time allowed for filing notice of appeal or pending appeal if any appeal is taken. After two years have passed from conviction under this subsection, the court may on motion of the defendant expunge the record of the criminal proceeding and conviction unless the defendant has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or a violation of a domestic abuse order after such initial adjudication.

1109. Appeals

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

An order of the court issued under section 1103 of this title shall be treated as a final order for the purposes of appeal. Appeal may be taken by either party to the supreme court under the Vermont Rules of Appellate Procedure and the appeal shall be determined forthwith.

1110. Requests for child support; transfer to office of magistrate

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

A request for child support under this chapter may be transferred by the court to the office of magistrate for hearing and disposal. A magistrate's support order granted under this section may not exceed three months unless the relief from abuse proceeding is consolidated with an action for legal separation, divorce or parentage.

1115. Limitation or denial of visitation

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

In any proceeding under this title, the fact that a parent has been convicted of any of the following offenses against the parent's child shall be a ground for limiting or denying visitation:

(1) sexual assault as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3252;

(2) aggravated sexual assault as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3253;

(3) lewd and lascivious conduct as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2601;

(4) sexual activity by a caregiver as defined in 33 V.S.A. § 6913(d);

(5) kidnapping as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2405(a)(1)(D);

(6) lewd and lascivious conduct with a child as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2602;

(7) prohibited acts in violation of 13 V.S.A. § 2635;

(8) sexual exploitation of children as defined in 13 V.S.A. chapter 64; or

(9) an attempt to commit any offense listed in this section.

Subchapter 3: Address Confidentiality for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

1150. Findings and intent

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) The general assembly finds that persons attempting to escape from actual or threatened domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking frequently establish new addresses in order to prevent their assailants or probable assailants from finding them.

(b) It is the purpose of this subchapter to:

(1) enable state and local agencies to respond to requests for public records without disclosing the location of a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking;

(2) promote interagency cooperation with the secretary of state in providing address confidentiality for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking; and

(3) enable state agencies and local agencies to accept a program participant's use of an address, and local agencies to accept an address, designated by the secretary of state as a substitute mailing address.

1151. Definitions

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section apply throughout the subchapter.

(1) “Actual address” means the physical location where the applicant resides and may include a school address or work address of an individual, as specified on the individual's application to be a program participant under this chapter.

(2) “Agency” means any subdivision of the State of Vermont, a municipality, or a subdivision of a municipality.

(3) “Domestic violence” means an act of abuse as defined in subdivision 1101(1) of this title and includes a threat of such acts committed against an individual in a domestic situation, regardless of whether these acts or threats have been reported to law enforcement officers.

(4) “Human trafficking” means conduct prohibited by 13 V.S.A. § 2652 or 2653, and includes a threat of such, regardless of whether the conduct or threat of conduct has been reported to law enforcement officers.

(5) “Law enforcement agency” means the Department of Public Safety, a municipal police department, a sheriff's department, the Attorney General's Office, a State's Attorney's Office, or certified law enforcement officers of the Department of Motor Vehicles, Agency of Natural Resources, or Department of Liquor Control. “Law enforcement agency” shall also mean the Department for Children and Families when engaged in:

(A) the investigation of child abuse and neglect;

(B) the delivery of services to families and children with whom the Department is working pursuant to the provisions of 33 V.S.A. chapters 51, 52, and 53; or

(C) the performance of the Department's responsibilities pursuant to an interstate compact to which the State is a party.

(6) “Law enforcement purpose” means all matters relating to:

(A) the prevention, investigation, prosecution, or adjudication of criminal offenses, civil matters, or juvenile matters;

(B) the investigation, prosecution, adjudication, detention, supervision, or correction of persons suspected, charged, or convicted of criminal offenses or juvenile delinquencies;

(C) the protection of the general health, welfare, and safety of the public or the State of Vermont;

(D) the execution and enforcement of court orders;

(E) service of criminal or civil process or court orders;

(F) screening for criminal justice employment;

(G) other actions taken in performance of official duties, as set forth by statutes, rules, policies, judicial case law, and the United States and Vermont Constitutions; and

(H) criminal identification activities, including the collection, storage, and dissemination of criminal history records, as defined in 20 V.S.A. § 2056a(a)(1), sex offender registry information, and DNA material and information.

(7) “Program participant” means a person certified as a Program participant under this chapter.

(8) “Public record” means a public record as defined in 1 V.S.A. § 317.

(9) “Secretary” means the Vermont Secretary of State.

(10) “Sexual assault” means an act of assault as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3252(a) or (b) (sexual assault) or 3253(a) (aggravated sexual assault), and includes a threat of such acts, regardless of whether these acts or threats have been reported to law enforcement officers.

(11) “Stalking” means conduct as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 1061 (stalking) or 1063 (aggravated stalking), and includes a threat of such acts, regardless of whether these acts or threats have been reported to law enforcement officers.

(12) “Substitute address” means the Secretary's designated address for the Address Confidentiality Program.

1152. Address confidentiality program; application; certification

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) An adult person, a parent or legal guardian acting on behalf of a minor, or a legal guardian acting on behalf of an incapacitated person, may apply to the Secretary of State to have an address designated by the Secretary serve as the person's address or the address of the minor or incapacitated person. The Secretary of State shall approve an application if it is filed in the manner and on the form prescribed by the Secretary of State, and if it contains:

(1) a statement made under oath by the applicant that:

(A) the applicant, or the minor or incapacitated person on whose behalf the application is made, is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking;

(B) the applicant fears for his or her safety or his or her children's safety, or the safety of the minor or incapacitated person on whose behalf the application is made;

(C) the parent or legal guardian applying on behalf of a minor or incapacitated person has legal authority to act on the person's behalf;

(D) if the applicant is under the supervision of the Department of Corrections, the applicant has notified the Department of the actual address and the applicant authorizes the release of the actual address to the Department; and

(E) if the applicant is required to report the actual address for the Sex Offender Registry under 13 V.S.A. chapter 167, subchapter 3, the applicant authorizes the release of the actual address to the Registry;

(2) a designation of the Secretary as agent for purposes of service of process and for the purpose of receipt of mail;

(3) the mailing address where the applicant can be contacted by the Secretary and the phone number or numbers where the applicant can be called by the secretary;

(4) the new address or addresses that the applicant requests not be disclosed for the reason that disclosure will increase the risk of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking;

(5) the signature of the applicant and the name of any individual or representative of any office who assisted in the preparation of the application and the date on which the applicant signed the application.

(b) Applications shall be filed with the Office of the Secretary.

(c) Upon receipt of a properly completed application, the Secretary shall certify the applicant as a program participant. Applicants shall be certified for four years following the date of filing, unless the certification is withdrawn or cancelled before that date. The Secretary shall by rule establish a renewal procedure.

(d) A person who knowingly provides false or incorrect information to the secretary as required by this chapter may be prosecuted under 13 V.S.A. § 2904.

(e) A program participant shall notify the Secretary of State of a change of actual address within seven days of the change of address.

(f) The Civil or Family Division of Washington County Superior Court shall have jurisdiction over petitions for protective orders filed by program participants pursuant to 12 V.S.A. §§ 5133 and 5134, to sections 1103 and 1104 of this title, and to 33 V.S.A. § 6935. A program participant may file a petition for a protective order in the county in which he or she resides or in Washington County to protect the confidentiality of his or her address.

1153. Certification cancellation

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) The secretary of state may cancel a program participant's certification if, after the passage of 14 days:

(1) from the date of changing his or her name, the program participant does not notify the secretary that he or she has obtained a name change; however, the program participant may reapply under his or her new name;

(2) from the date of changing his or her address, the program participant fails to notify the secretary of the change of address; or

(3) from the date the secretary first receives mail, forwarded to the program participant's address, returned as nondeliverable.

(b) The secretary shall cancel certification of a program participant who applies using false information.

(c) The secretary shall send notice of cancellation to the program participant. Notice of cancellation shall set out the reasons for cancellation. The program participant shall have 30 days to appeal the cancellation decision under procedures developed by the secretary.

(d) Program participants may withdraw from the program by giving the secretary written notice of their intention. The secretary shall establish, by rule, a secure procedure for ensuring that the request for withdrawal is legitimate.

1154. Agency use of designated address; agency other than law enforcement agency.

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) A program participant shall request that state and local agencies, other than law enforcement agencies, use the substitute address as the participant's address. When creating a new public record, state and local agencies, other than law enforcement agencies, shall accept the substitute address, unless the secretary has determined that:

(1) the agency has a bona fide requirement for the use of the actual address which would otherwise be confidential under this subchapter;

(2) the address will be used only for those statutory and administrative purposes;

(3) the agency has identified the specific program participant's record for which the waiver is requested;

(4) the agency has identified the individuals who will have access to the record; and

(5) the agency has explained how its acceptance of the substitute address will prevent the agency from meeting its obligations under the law and why it cannot meet its statutory or administrative obligation by a change in its internal procedures.

(b) During the review, evaluation, and appeal of an agency's request, the agency shall accept the use of a program participant's substitute address.

(c) The secretary's determination to grant or withhold a requested waiver must be based on, but not limited to, an evaluation of the information under subsection (a) of this section.

(d) If the secretary finds that the agency has a bona fide purpose for the actual address and that the information will only be used for that purpose, the secretary shall issue the actual address to the agency. Prior to granting the waiver, the secretary shall notify the program participant of the waiver, including the name of the agency and the reasons for the waiver. If granted a waiver, the agency shall maintain the confidentiality of the program participant's address by redacting the actual address when the record is released to any person.

(e) Denial of the agency waiver request must be made in writing and include a statement of the reasons for denial.

(f) Acceptance or denial of the agency's waiver request constitutes final agency action. An aggrieved party may appeal.

(g) A program participant may use the address designated by the secretary as his or her work address.

(h) The office of the secretary shall forward all first class mail to the appropriate program participants.

(i) The secretary shall keep a record of all waivers and all documentation relating to requests for waivers.

(j) Any agency receiving a waiver may not make the program participant's actual address available for inspection or copying, except under the following circumstances:

(1) if requested by a law enforcement agency for a law enforcement purpose as defined in subdivision 1151(5) of this title; or

(2) if directed by a court order to a person identified in the order.

1154a. Agency use of designated address; law enforcement agency.

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) If requested in person by a program participant to the person creating the record prior to the creation of the record, and upon proof of participation in the program established by this chapter, a law enforcement agency shall use the participant's substitute address in:

(1) a summons or complaint for a violation within the jurisdiction of the judicial bureau as set forth in section 1102 of Title 4;

(2) a citation to appear under Rule 3 of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure; or

(3) an accident report filed with the department of motor vehicles.

(b) Nothing in this subchapter shall prevent a law enforcement agency from requiring that a program participant provide his or her actual address upon request from the agency.

(c) A law enforcement agency may, in its discretion, use a substitute address in any record released by the agency.

1155. Disclosure of address prohibited; exceptions

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) The secretary of state may not make a program participant's address, other than the address designated by the secretary, available for inspection or copying, except under the following circumstances:

(1) if requested by a law enforcement agency for a law enforcement purpose as defined in subdivision 1151(5) of this title; or

(2) if directed by a court order to a person identified in the order; or

(3) to verify the participation of a specific program participant, in which case the secretary may only confirm information supplied by the requester.

(b) The secretary shall ensure by rule that:

(1) when a law enforcement agency determines it has an immediate need for a participant's actual address, disclosure of the address shall occur immediately; and

(2) in other circumstances, there is an expedited process for disclosure.

(c) The secretary may request that an agency review its disclosure requests to determine whether such requests were appropriate.

(d) The secretary shall provide immediate notification of disclosure to a program participant when disclosure takes place under subdivisions (a)(2) and (3) of this section.

(e)

(1) No person shall knowingly and intentionally obtain a program participant's actual address from the secretary knowing that he or she was not authorized to obtain the address information.

(2) No employee of a state, local, or municipal agency or sheriff's department shall knowingly and intentionally disclose, with the intent to disseminate to the individual from whom the program participant is seeking address confidentiality, a participant's actual address to a person known to the employee to be prohibited from receiving the participant's actual address, unless such disclosure is permissible by law. This subdivision is only intended to apply when an employee obtains a participant's actual address during the course of the employee's official duties and, at the time of disclosure, the employee has specific knowledge that the address disclosed belongs to a person who is participating in the program.

(3) Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit an agency or agency employee from disclosing or providing a participant's actual address to an agency attorney providing advice to an agency or agency employee, nor shall any agency attorney be prohibited, except as set forth in section 1156 of this title, from disclosing a participant's actual address to other law enforcement employees, other agency attorneys, paralegals, or their support staff, if disclosure is related to providing such advice or to the agency attorney's representation of the agency or agency employee. In the case of law enforcement, agency attorneys shall also include the attorneys in the office of the state's attorneys, attorney general and the United States attorney. An attorney, during the course of providing advice to another person or agency, shall not be subject to the provisions set forth in subdivisions 1155(e)(1) and (2) of this title, nor shall any actionable duty arise from giving such advice.

(4) A person who violates subdivisions (1) or (2) of this subsection shall be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $5,000.00. Each unauthorized disclosure shall constitute a separate civil violation. Nothing in this subdivision shall preclude criminal prosecution for a violation.

1156. Nondisclosure of address in criminal and civil proceedings.

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

No person shall be compelled to disclose a program participant's actual address during the discovery phase of or during a proceeding before a court of competent jurisdiction or administrative tribunal unless the court or administrative tribunal finds, based upon a preponderance of the evidence, that the disclosure is required in the interests of justice. A court or administrative tribunal may seal that portion of any record that contains a program participant's actual address. Nothing in this subchapter shall prevent the state, in its discretion, from using a program participant's actual address in any document or record filed with a court or administrative tribunal if, at the time of filing, the document or record is not a public record.

1157. Assistance for program applicants

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

The secretary of state shall make available a list of state and local agencies and nonprofit agencies that provide counseling and shelter services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking to assist persons applying to be program participants. Such information provided by the office of the secretary or designees to applicants shall in no way be construed as legal advice.

1158. Voting by program participant

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

A program participant who is otherwise qualified to vote may register to vote and apply for an early voter absentee ballot pursuant to rules adopted by the secretary of state under section 1160 of this title. Such rules shall enable a town clerk to substitute, on all voting records of the town, the designation "blind ballot" wherever the name or address of the voter might otherwise appear. The program participant shall receive early voter absentee ballots for all elections in the jurisdictions for which that individual resides in the same manner as early or absentee voters who qualify under section 2531 of Title 17. The town clerk shall transmit the early voter absentee ballot to the program participant at the address designated by the participant in his or her application. Neither the name nor the address of a program participant shall be included in any list of registered voters available to the public.Added 1999, No. 134 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2001, No. 6, §§ 12(a), 12(b), eff. April 10, 2001.

1159. Custody and visitation orders

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Nothing in this chapter, nor participation in this program, affects custody or visitation orders in effect prior to or during program participation.

1160. Adoption of rules

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

The secretary of state shall adopt rules necessary to perform his or her duties under this subchapter relating to: program application and certification; certification cancellation; agency use of designated addresses and exceptions; voting by program participants; and recording of vital statistics for program participants. All such rules shall conform with the findings and intent of the general assembly, as described in section 1150 of this title, and shall be designed with an understanding of the needs and circumstances of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking.

Title Fifteen B. Uniform Interstate Family Support Act

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Chapter 3. Civil Provisions of General Application

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

312. Nondisclosure of information in exceptional circumstances

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Upon a finding, which may be made ex parte, that the health, safety, or liberty of a party or child would be unreasonably put at risk by the disclosure of identifying information, or if an existing order so provides, a tribunal shall order that the address and other identifying information of the child or party not be disclosed in a pleading or other document filed in a proceeding under this title.

Vermont Court Rules

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Rules for Family Proceedings

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

Rule 9. Abuse prevention

Updated: 
February 2, 2018

(a) Application of Civil Rules.
(1) In General. Except as provided by this rule or by statute, the Rules of Civil Procedure shall apply to actions to prevent abuse.
(2) Rules Not Applicable. Rules 16.3 (Alternative Dispute Resolution) and 79.1 (Appearance and Withdrawal of Attorneys) of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure does not apply to actions under this rule.
(3) Rules Modified. Rule 30 of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure shall apply to actions under this rule, except that a deposition may be taken only by order for good cause shown. Rule 58 of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure shall apply to actions under this rule, except that a judgment need not be set forth on a separate document and is effective only when it is in writing, signed by the judge, and entered as provide in Rule 79(a) of those rules.
(b) Content of Complaint. A complaint seeking relief from abuse shall state whether any divorce, annulment, parentage, abuse prevention or separate support proceedings are pending between the parties, whether any orders from such proceedings are in effect, the court in which such proceedings are pending, and the names of the attorneys who have entered their appearance in such proceedings. The plaintiff shall also provide an address and telephone number for notification purposes, which shall not be provided to any person without the written consent of the plaintiff.
(c) Emergency Relief. Temporary orders may be issued ex parte, without written or oral notice to defendant or defendant's attorney, upon motion and affidavit and findings by the court as required by 15 V.S.A. § 1104. If a request for emergency relief is presented to a district or superior judge who is not sitting in the family court, the judge shall accept the request on behalf of the family court and file the request, documents accompanying the request and the order, if any, in the family court. If the court determines that the contents of the affidavit are insufficient to support the issuance of a temporary order, the plaintiff shall be entitled to present evidence to the court before the court decides whether to grant or deny a temporary order.
(d) Presentation to Other Judge. When an application for a temporary order under this rule is made to and acted upon by one judge it shall not be presented to any other judge except by direction of the first judge or the Administrative Judge.
(e) Denial of Ex Parte Temporary Orders. When a judge denies an application for temporary order under this rule, the judge shall record the reasons for the denial in writing and shall give the written denial to the plaintiff. In addition, any denial in whole or in part shall inform the plaintiff that, within 7 days after entry of the denial on the docket, he or she may request that the court hold a hearing on the complaint after notice to the defendant. Any such hearing shall be scheduled no more than 14 days from the date of the request.
(f) Grant of Order.
(1) All Orders. An order issued under this rule shall contain the name of the court, the names of the parties, the date of the complaint, the findings that support the order, and the date and time of the order and shall be signed by the court. All orders shall bear the following language: “Violation of this order is a crime subject to a term of imprisonment or a fine or both and may also be prosecuted as criminal contempt punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both.” All orders shall also inform the parties that each has the right to receive notice in advance of any hearing that the opposing party will be represented by counsel. “Notice in advance of any hearing” is defined as actual notice provided to the opposing party or their attorney in person, by telephone, or in writing sufficiently in advance of the hearing to permit the other party a reasonable opportunity to obtain counsel.
(2) Ex Parte Orders. If the order was issued ex parte, it shall also state upon its face a date, time and place when defendant may appear to oppose the permanent relief sought in the complaint. Ex parte orders shall inform defendant that if he or she has compelling reasons to request a modification of the terms of the order relating to parental rights and/or possession of the home, he or she may file a written motion and affidavit requesting a hearing sooner than the date specified on the order.
(3) Final Orders. Every order shall clearly inform the plaintiff and defendant that only the court can amend or revoke the order. Pursuant to 15 V.S.A. § 1103(d), if the court finds that contact between the defendant and the child/ren will result in abuse, the court shall specify conditions under which such contact may be exercised so as to prevent further abuse. In determining contact between the defendant and the child/ren, the court shall consider the best interests of the child/ren pursuant to § 665 of Title 15, and conditions which will minimize the likelihood of further harm to plaintiff or the children. Such conditions may include supervision or restrictions on transportation, telephone contact, use of alcohol or regulated drugs or other matters.
(g) Modification of Emergency Orders.
(1) Motions to Modify. The defendant may file a motion to modify those terms of an order issued under subdivision (c) which relate to child custody or possession of the home. The motion shall be accompanied by an affidavit setting forth compelling reasons why the relief should be modified prior to the date of the hearing set forth in the order. In addition, as part of the motion, defendant shall state whether or not defendant will be represented by counsel at the requested hearing and the name and address of any such counsel. If not represented by counsel the defendant shall state a mailing address and telephone number, which address and telephone number shall not be provided to any person without the written consent of the defendant.
(2) Notice of Expedited Hearing. If the court determines that defendant's reasons for requesting a change in the terms of the order appear compelling, then the court may schedule a hearing on the motion on at least two days' notice to the plaintiff or on such shorter notice to the plaintiff as the court deems necessary. In no case shall the hearing be held unless the plaintiff has received personal notice of the hearing in writing or orally. If notice to plaintiff is in writing, the clerk of the court shall attach copies of defendant's motion and affidavit. If notice to plaintiff is oral, the clerk of the court shall inform plaintiff that copies of the papers are available at the court. If oral notice is given, the hearing shall not take place sooner than 48 hours after oral notice is effected.
(3) Orders of Modification. Unless both parties consent, the hearing and any order of the court based on the evidence from such hearing shall address only whether the provisions in the order issued under subdivision (c) which relate to child custody or possession of the home should be modified, and shall not address the merits of the petition.
(h) Continuances. Notwithstanding Civil Rule 40(c), grounds for continuances and for extension of the terms of any order include lack of notice in advance of any hearing that the opposing party will be represented by counsel. “Notice in advance of any hearing” is defined as actual notice provided to the opposing party or their attorney in person, by telephone, or in writing sufficiently in advance of the hearing to permit the other party a reasonable opportunity to retain counsel. If such notice is not provided to the opposing party, upon request by the unrepresented party or on the court's own motion, the court shall continue the hearing to a specific date that is the next available hearing date that will allow the unrepresented party a reasonable time to obtain counsel. The court shall extend emergency relief for the duration of the continuance.
(i) Signature on Orders. Orders issued pursuant to 15 V.S.A. § 1104 shall be signed by the judge or, after regular court hours or on weekends or holidays, by a member of the court staff as directed by the judge by telephone.
(j) Orders Granting the Defendant Relief From Abuse. The court may issue an order granting the defendant relief from abuse only: (1) upon the filing and service of an affidavit and complaint, or affidavit and motion, executed by the defendant, and upon notice and opportunity to be heard, or (2) in cases in which a complaint or petition has been filed under Rule 4.0 or 4.1, pursuant to Rule 4.3(a)(3) or (4).
(k) Automatic Child Support Hearing. Whenever the physical responsibility provisions of a final order issued under this rule would modify the physical responsibility provisions of a final order issued in a proceeding under Rule 4.1, the court shall order a child support modification hearing to be set and shall proceed as provided in Rule 4.2(f).
(l) Petition for Relief by or on Behalf of a Vulnerable Adult.
(1) A request for relief from abuse under Title 15 may be combined with a request for relief under Title 33, and a plaintiff eligible for relief under both statutes may elect to proceed under one or both statutes that provide relief from abuse. When a request for relief is made under both statutes, the court shall make findings and may issue relief under either statute providing relief from abuse. If the plaintiff moves to amend the complaint to add a claim under either statute, the court may proceed with the hearing or continue the hearing to a later date, on the amended claim in its discretion.
(2) If the petition for relief is filed by an interested person on behalf of a vulnerable adult, the petitioner shall hand deliver a copy of the petition and actual notice of any final hearing under 33 V.S.A. §§ 6934-6936 to the vulnerable adult unless the court orders another method of service. The petitioner shall certify in writing to the court prior to any final hearing that a copy of the petition and actual notice of the final hearing has been delivered to the vulnerable adult.
(3) The court shall determine whether the vulnerable adult is capable of expressing his or her wishes with respect to the motion or petition. If the court finds that the vulnerable adult is capable of expressing his or her wishes and has knowingly and voluntarily stated that he or she does not wish to pursue the petition or motion, the court shall state the basis of those findings on the record and shall dismiss the petition or motion.
(4) A guardian ad litem appointed by the court pursuant to 33 V.S.A. § 6938(b) shall be governed by Rule 6.1(c)(2), (c)(3), (e) and (f).