§ 201. Definitions
The word "child," as used in this subchapter, shall mean a child who is under the age of 18 years, or is under the age of 21 years and is a student regularly attending a school, college or university or their equivalent, or is regularly attending a course of vocational or technical training designed to fit him for gainful employment, and shall include a "stepchild" under such age. The words "adult child," as so used, shall mean a child over the age of minority. (Amended 1971, No. 98, § 1, eff. April 22, 1971.)
§ 202. Penalty for desertion or nonsupport
A married person who, without just cause, shall desert or wilfully neglect or refuse to provide for the support and maintenance of his or her spouse and children, leaving them in destitute or necessitous circumstances or a parent who, without lawful excuse, shall desert or wilfully neglect or refuse to provide for the support and maintenance of his or her child or an adult child possessed of sufficient pecuniary or physical ability to support his or her parents, who unreasonably neglects or refuses to provide such support when the parent is destitute, unable to support himself or herself and resident in this state, shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $300.00, or both. Should a fine be imposed, the court may order the same to be paid in whole or in part to the needy spouse, parent or to the guardian, custodian, or trustee of the child. The office of child support attorneys, in addition to any other duly authorized person, may prosecute cases under this
section in Vermont district court. (Amended 1973, No. 201 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § C21.)
§ 203. Institution of proceedings
Proceedings under this subchapter may be instituted by any prosecuting officer upon complaint made by the deserted married person, child or by any other person, including a parent in proper cases, against a spouse, parent or adult child, accused of an offense named in section 202 of this title. (Amended 1965, No. 194, § 10, operative Feb. 1, 1967; 1973, No. 201 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; No. 249 (Adj. Sess.), § 68, eff. April 9, 1974; 1987, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 4.)
§ 204. Temporary orders
At any time before the trial, upon application of the complainant and upon notice to the respondent, the court, or a judge thereof in vacation, may enter such temporary order as may seem just providing for the support of the deserted spouse or child, or both, or of such parents, pendente lite, and may punish for violation of such order as for contempt. (Amended 1973, No. 201 (Adj. Sess.), § 4.)
§ 205. Order for payment; probation; recognizance
Before the trial, with the consent of the respondent, or at the trial on entry of a plea of guilty, or after conviction, instead of imposing the penalty provided in section 202 of this title, or in addition thereto, the court, in its discretion, having regard to the circumstances and to the financial ability or earning capacity of the respondent, may make an order which shall be subject to change by the court from time to time, as circumstances may require, directing the respondent to pay a certain sum periodically to the spouse or to the guardian or custodian of the child or to an organization or individual approved by the court as trustee or to a parent or his or her guardian. Such court may order the respondent released from custody and placed on probation, upon his or her entering into a recognizance, with or without surety, in such sum as the court, or a judge thereof in vacation, may order and approve. The condition of the recognizance shall be such that if the respondent shal
l make his or her personal appearance in court whenever ordered so to do and shall further comply with the terms of such order of support, or of any subsequent modification thereof, such recognizance shall be void, otherwise in full force and effect. (Amended 1973, No. 201 (Adj. Sess.), § 5.)
§ 206. Proceedings on failure to comply
If the court is satisfied by information and due proof under oath that the respondent has violated the terms of such order, it may forthwith proceed with the trial of the respondent under the original charge, or sentence him or her under the original conviction or enforce the suspended sentence, as the case may be. In case of forfeiture of a recognizance and enforcement thereof by execution, the sum recovered, in the discretion of the court, may be paid in whole or in part to the spouse or to the guardian, custodian or trustee of the child, or to a parent or his or her guardian. (Amended 1973, No. 201 (Adj. Sess.), § 6.)
§ 207. Evidence; competency of parties as witnesses
Other evidence shall not be required to prove the civil marriage of the husband and wife, or that the respondent is the father or mother or stepfather or stepmother of the child, than is or shall be required to prove such facts in a civil action. In a prosecution under this subchapter, any existing statute or rule of law prohibiting the disclosure of confidential communications between husband and wife shall not apply, and both husband and wife shall be competent witnesses to testify against each other to any and all relevant matters, including the fact of the civil marriage and the parentage of the child; provided that neither shall be compelled to give self-incriminating evidence. Proof of the desertion of the husband or wife or child in destitute circumstances or of neglect or refusal to provide for the support and maintenance of the husband, wife, or child shall be prima facie evidence that the desertion, neglect, or refusal is wilful. (Amended 1973, No. 201 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 2
009, No. 3, § 12a, eff. Sept. 1, 2009.)
§ 208. Repealed. 1973, No. 201 (Adj. Sess.), § 12.
§ 209. Disposition, care, and maintenance of children
When a parent is found guilty of nonsupport or desertion of his or her child, the court may enter such order or judgment relating to the disposition, care and maintenance of such child, either by committing the child to the department for children and families or to some person or suitable institution, as shall be equitable in the premises. The court may enforce the same by execution or by any proper proceedings. The property of such parent shall not be exempt from levy and sale under execution. (Amended 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 27.)
§ 210. Construction
This subchapter shall be so interpreted and construed as to effect its general purpose to make uniform the law of those states which enact it.
§§ 231-269. Repealed. 1969, No. 191 (Adj. Sess.), § 4.
§ 291. When a married person deserts or fails to support his or her spouse
(a) When a married person without just cause fails to furnish suitable support for that person's spouse, or has deserted such spouse, or when a married person, for a justifiable cause, is actually living apart from such spouse, on the complaint of either married person, or, if the deserted spouse is insane, on the complaint of a guardian or next friend, the superior court, by its order, may prohibit either spouse from imposing restraint on the other's personal liberty for such time as the court in such order directs, or until further order.
(b) Upon the application of the husband or wife, or of the guardian or next friend of either spouse, such court may make such orders as it deems expedient concerning the support of either spouse and the care, custody, education and maintenance of the minor children of the parties. It may determine with which of the parents the children, or any of them, shall remain, and thereafter, from time to time, on similar application, may revise and alter such order, or make a new order or decree, as the case requires.
(c) The complaint may be brought in the county in which either of the parties resides, except that, if the complainant has left the county in which the parties have lived together, the adverse party still residing therein, the complaint shall be brought in that county.
(d) When complaint is made as provided in this section, a summons shall be issued to the other party directing him to cause his appearance therein to be entered not later than 21 days after the date of the service thereof and show cause why the prayer of the complaint should not be granted, which summons and the complaint shall be served on such party as provided by section 596 of this title.
(e) After filing such complaint the superior court in which the cause is pending, or a superior judge, on application of either party, may make such order concerning the care and custody of such minor children, or the support of either spouse, during the pendency of the complaint, as is deemed expedient and for the benefit of either spouse or the children.
(f) When filed and recorded in the office of the clerk of a town, or served upon a private corporation, such order shall be a lien upon such of the real estate and personal property of the defendant in such town, and upon the stock of the defendant in such corporation as is mentioned in the order.
(g) For the purposes of this section "children" shall include stepchildren. (Amended 1971, No. 98, § 2, eff. April 22, 1971; 1973, No. 193 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 9, 1974; No. 201 (Adj. Sess.), § 8.)
§ 292. Repealed. 1981, No. 247 (Adj. Sess.), § 18.
§ 293. When parents live separately
(a) When parents of minor children, or parents and stepparents of minor children, whether said parents are married or unmarried, are living separately, on the complaint of either parent or stepparent or, if it is a party in interest, the department for children and families, the family division of the superior court may make such decree concerning parental rights and responsibilities and parent-child contact (as defined in section 664 of this title), and the support of the children, as in cases where either parent deserts or without just cause fails to support. Thereafter on the motion of either of the parents, the stepparent, or the department for children and families, the court may annul, vary or modify the decrees.
(b) Any legal presumption of parentage as set forth in section 308 of this title shall be sufficient basis for initiating a support action under this section without any further proceedings to establish parentage. If a party raises an objection to the presumption, the court may determine the issue of parentage as part of the support action. If no written objection to the presumption is raised, an order under this section shall constitute a judgment on the issue of parentage. (Amended 1971, No. 98, § 3, eff. April 22, 1971; 1973, No. 193 (Adj. Sess.), § 3 eff. April 9, 1974; 1993, No. 228 (Adj. Sess.), § 10; 1995, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 28; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 238.)
§ 294. Man in the house
(a) When the mother of minor children is residing within the same household as a man unrelated to her and not otherwise liable for the support of the mother and her children, on the complaint of the mother or, if she is receiving public assistance, the department for children and families, the superior court shall make such decree concerning the support of the mother and the care, custody, maintenance, and education of the children as in cases where the husband refuses without just cause to support his wife and children. The decree shall by its terms continue in force for so long as the defendant resides within the household or until further order of the court.
(b) This section shall not apply to persons living in boarding houses. (Added 1971, No. 98, § 4, eff. April 22, 1971; amended 1973, No. 193 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 9, 1974; 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 29.)
§ 295. Substitute husband and father
When complaint is made under section 292, 293 or 294 of this title, a summons shall be issued to the other party directing him to cause his appearance therein to be entered not later than 21 days after the date of the service thereof and show cause why the prayer of the complaint should not be granted, which summons and the complaint shall be served on such party as provided by section 596 or by section 597 of this title. After the filing of such complaint, the superior court in which the cause is pending, or any superior judge, may, on application of either party make such order concerning the care and custody of the minor children during the pendency of the complaint, as is deemed expedient and for the benefit of such children. (Amended 1971, No. 98, § 5, eff. April 22, 1971; 1973, No. 193 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 9, 1974.)
§ 296. Liability of stepparents
A stepparent has a duty to support a stepchild if they reside in the same household and if the financial resources of the natural or adoptive parents are insufficient to provide the child with a reasonable subsistence consistent with decency and health. The duty of a stepparent to support a stepchild under this section shall be coextensive with and enforceable according to the same terms as the duty of a natural or adoptive parent to support a natural or adoptive child including any such duty of support as exists under the common law of this state, for so long as the marital bond creating the step relationship shall continue. (Added 1971, No. 247 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 7, 1972; amended 1985, No. 180 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. April 1, 1987.)
§ 301. Policy
It is the policy of this state that the legal rights, privileges, duties, and obligations of parents be established for the benefit of all children, regardless of whether the child is born during civil marriage or out of wedlock. (Added 1983, No. 231 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 14, 1984; amended 2009, No. 3, § 12a, eff. Sept. 1, 2009.)
§ 302. Standing; limitation
(a) An action to establish parentage in cases where parentage has not been previously determined either by an action under this subchapter or by adoption, may be brought by a child who has attained the age of majority; the personal representative of a minor child, a person alleged or alleging himself or herself to be the natural parent of a child or that person's personal representative if he or she is a minor, incompetent, or has died; or the office of child support when an assignment of the right to support is in effect pursuant to 33 V.S.A. § 3902 or when a parent has applied for IV-D services.
(b) An action to establish parentage may be brought at any time after birth, but shall not be brought later than three years after the child reaches the age of majority. (Added 1983, No. 231 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 14, 1984; amended 1997, No. 63, § 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.)
§ 303. Jurisdiction
(a) The family division of the superior court has jurisdiction over actions brought under this subchapter to establish parentage. The action may be joined with an action for divorce, annulment or separate maintenance. The action shall be governed by the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure. The burden of proof shall be by preponderance of the evidence.
(b) A complaint brought under this subchapter shall be accompanied by an affidavit by the person alleging parentage setting forth facts demonstrating that the person is the parent of the child. If the complaint is brought by the state, the complaint shall be accompanied by an affidavit of the parent whose rights have been assigned; in cases where the assignor is not a biological parent or is a biological parent who refuses to provide an affidavit, the affidavit may be submitted by the state; except, the affidavit alone shall not support a default judgment on the issue of parentage. (Amended 1989, No. 221 (Adj. Sess.), § 14, eff. Oct. 1, 1990; 1995, No. 59, § 4; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 238.)
§ 304. Submission to genetic testing; test results
(a) On motion of a party, the court shall require the child, the defendant or defendants, and any acknowledged parent to submit to appropriate genetic testing for the determination of parentage. A party shall be exempt from genetic testing for good cause.
(b) The results of genetic testing are relevant to proceedings under this chapter in order to prove parentage or to disprove parentage.
(c) A party in possession of the results of genetic testing shall make such results available to any other party upon receipt of the results.
(d) Unless waived by the parties, any party intending to rely on the results of genetic testing must:
(1) make the test results available to the other parties at least 15 days prior to any hearing at which the results may be introduced into evidence;
(2) give notice of the intent to use the test results at the hearing; and
(3) give the other parties notice of this statutory section including the need to object in a timely fashion.
(e) Any motion objecting to genetic test results must be made in writing to the court and to the party intending to introduce the evidence not less than five days prior to any hearing at which the results may be introduced into evidence. If no timely objection is made, the written results shall be admissible as evidence without the need for foundation testimony or other proof of authenticity or accuracy.
(f) Upon or after the filing of a parentage action, the office of child support may issue a notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the child, alleged parent and any acknowledged parent to appear and submit to appropriate genetic testing for the determination of parentage if the notice is accompanied by a sworn statement:
(1) alleging parentage, and setting forth facts establishing a reasonable possibility of the requisite sexual contact between the parties; or
(2) denying parentage, and setting forth facts establishing a reasonable possibility of the nonexistence of sexual contact between the parties.
(g) Written bills for pregnancy, childbirth and genetic testing costs shall be admissible as evidence without requiring third party foundation testimony, and shall constitute prima facie evidence of amounts incurred for such services or for testing on behalf of the child. (Added 1983, No. 231 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 14, 1984; amended 1989, No. 120; 1989, No. 221 (Adj. Sess.), § 15; 1993, No. 228 (Adj. Sess.), § 11; 1997, No. 63, § 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.)
§ 305. No judgment without hearing; appearance by defendant
No judgment, other than dismissal for a want of prosecution, shall be entered in an action under this subchapter except after hearing unless the court accepts and approves a stipulation of the parties which shall become an order of the court. The hearing may be conducted if the defendant does not appear. A defendant who does not file an answer may enter an appearance in writing, and may thereupon be heard on issues of child custody, visitation and support. (Added 1983, No. 231 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 14, 1984; amended 1993, No. 105, § 3.)
§ 306. Judgment or order
In an action under this subchapter, the court may determine parentage and may include in its order provisions relating to the obligations of parentage, including future child support, visitation and custody. (Added 1983, No. 231 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 14, 1984.)
§ 307. Voluntary acknowledgment of parentage
(a) In any case in which the parents of a child are not married, parents of the child may acknowledge parentage by filling out and signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage form prescribed and made available by the department of health and by filing the form with the department of health. The Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage form shall be confidential and shall include the parents' mailing addresses and Social Security numbers, instructions for filing the form with the department of health, information concerning the legal implications of completing the form, including the procedure for establishing parentage, parental rights and responsibilities and child support obligations.
(b) The department of health shall make Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage forms generally available to the public through hospitals, medical offices, schools and the courts. Upon adoption of the uniform national Voluntary Acknowledgment Form by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it shall be adopted by the department of health. The form shall contain language emphasizing the gravity of the effects of acknowledging parentage and the rights and responsibilities which attach. The form shall also contain the following statement: "Parentage creates specific legal obligations. This signed form may be used in court in support of a parentage claim. You should seek legal advice before signing this form if you have any questions or if you are confused about your rights and responsibilities."
(c) The department of health shall only make the completed Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage form available to the parties who signed it and the office of child support. The office of child support shall not have access to the form except for the purpose of initiating a parentage or support proceeding on behalf of a dependent child as defined in section 3901(4) of Title 33, in which case the department of health shall make available to the office of child support upon explicit request, the appropriate information.
(d) A witnessed Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage form signed by both biological parents under this section shall be a presumptive legal determination of parentage upon filing with the department of health provided no court has previously adjudicated parentage or no legal presumption of legitimacy otherwise applies.
(e) In an action brought under this chapter, documents on file with the court that contain the Social Security number of the parties shall be released only to the parties or the state if it is involved in the matter.
(f) A person who has signed a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage form may rescind the acknowledgment within 60 days after signing the form or prior to a judicial determination of parentage, whichever occurs first. The rescission shall be in writing and shall be filed with the department of health. If a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage form is not timely rescinded as provided for in this subsection, the determination of parentage may be challenged only pursuant to Rule 60 of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure. During the pendency of such a challenge, the legal responsibilities, including child support obligations, of any signatory arising from the acknowledgment may not be suspended during the challenge, except for good cause shown. (Added 1989, No. 220 (Adj. Sess.), § 30; amended 1993, No. 105, § 4; 1993, No. 228 (Adj. Sess.), § 12; 1997, No. 63, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.)
§ 308. Presumption of parentage
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 husband and wife are legally married to each other. (Added 1989, No. 220 (Adj. Sess.), § 31; 1993, No. 228 (Adj. Sess.), § 13.)
§§ 331-345. Repealed. 1983, No. 231 (Adj. Sess.), § 2(1), eff. May 14, 1984.
§§ 371-380. Repealed. 1983, No. 231 (Adj. Sess.), § 2(1), eff. May 14, 1984.