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Searching 2019-2020 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

The statutes were updated in November, 2018, and contain all actions of the
2018 legislative session.

Title 15: Domestic Relations

Chapter 005: DESERTION AND SUPPORT

  • Subchapter 001: UNIFORM DESERTION AND NONSUPPORT ACT
  • § 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; 1973, No. 249 (Adj. Sess.), § 68, eff. April 9, 1974; 1987, 1973, 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 shall 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; 2009, 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.


  • Subchapter 002: UNIFORM RECIPROCAL ENFORCEMENT OF SUPPORT ACT
  • §§ 231-269. Repealed. 1969, No. 191 (Adj. Sess.), § 4.


  • Subchapter 003: SUPPORT OF SPOUSE AND CARE OF CHILDREN
  • § 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 has a mental condition or psychiatric disability, 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 or her to cause his or her 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; 1973, No. 201 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 66.)

  • § 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.)


  • Subchapter 003A: PARENTAGE PROCEEDINGS
  • §§ 301-308. Repealed. 2017, No. 162 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.


  • Subchapter 004: MAINTENANCE OF BASTARD CHILDREN
  • §§ 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.