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Searching 2019-2020 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online


Title 4 : Judiciary

Chapter 010 : FAMILY COURT


(Cite as: 4 V.S.A. § 461)
  • § 461. Office of magistrate; jurisdiction; selection; term

    (a) The office of magistrate is created within the Family Division of the Superior Court. Except as provided in section 463 of this title, the office of magistrate shall have nonexclusive jurisdiction to hear and dispose of the following cases and proceedings:

    (1) Proceedings for the establishment, modification, and enforcement of child support, including contempt proceedings instituted against an obligated party for the limited purpose of enforcing a child support order.

    (2) Cases arising under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.

    (3) Child support in parentage cases after parentage has been determined.

    (4) Cases arising under 33 V.S.A. § 5116, when delegated by a presiding judge of the Superior Court.

    (5) Proceedings to establish, modify, or enforce temporary orders for spousal maintenance in accordance with 15 V.S.A. §§ 594a and 752.

    (6) Proceedings to modify or enforce temporary or final parent-child contact orders issued pursuant to this title.

    (7) Proceedings to establish parentage.

    (8) Proceedings to establish temporary parental rights and responsibilities and parent-child contact.

    (b) A magistrate shall be an attorney admitted to practice in Vermont with at least four years of general law practice. Magistrates shall be nominated, appointed, and confirmed in the manner of Superior judges.

    (c)(1) Terms of office of magistrates, except in the case of an appointment to fill a vacancy or unexpired term, shall be for a term of six years from and including April 1 in the year of the magistrate's appointment or retention. A magistrate shall remain in office until a successor is appointed and qualified, unless sooner removed for cause or unless he or she resigns.

    (2) A magistrate may file in the office of the Secretary of State, on or before September 1 of the year preceding the expiration of the term for which he or she was appointed or retained, a declaration that he or she will be a candidate to succeed himself or herself. However, a magistrate appointed and having taken the oath of office after September 1 of the year preceding the expiration of the term of office shall automatically be a candidate for retention without filing notice. When a magistrate files such a declaration, his or her name shall be submitted to the General Assembly for a vote on retention. The General Assembly shall vote upon one ballot on the question: "Shall the following magistrates be retained in office?" The names of the magistrates shall be listed followed by "Yes____ No____." If a majority of those voting on the question vote against retaining a magistrate in office, upon the expiration of the term, a vacancy shall exist which shall be filled in accordance with the Constitution and chapter 15 of this title. If the majority vote is in favor of retention, the magistrate shall, unless removed for cause, remain in office for another term, and at its end, shall be eligible for retention in office in the manner herein prescribed.

    (3) The Court Administrator shall notify the Secretary of State whenever a magistrate is appointed and takes the oath of office after September 1 of the year preceding the expiration of the term of office to which the magistrate has succeeded, thereby resulting in automatic notification of an intention to continue in office. Whenever a magistrate files a declaration under subsection (a) of this section or when notification occurs automatically, the Secretary of State shall notify the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, and the Legislative Council forthwith.

    (d) Magistrates shall be exempt employees of the Judicial Branch, subject to the Code of Judicial Conduct, and, except as provided in section 26 of this title, shall devote full time to their duties. The Supreme Court shall prescribe training requirements for magistrates.

    (e) A magistrate shall have received training on the subject of parent-child contact before being assigned to hear and determine motions filed pursuant to subdivision (a)(6) of this section.

    (f) [Repealed.]  (Added 1989, No. 221 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1991, No. 189 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. July 5, 1992; 1993, No. 227 (Adj. Sess.), § 21; 1995, No. 63, § 139a; 1995, No. 181 (Adj. Sess.), § 19; 1999, No. 54, § 2; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 29; 2009, No. 156 (Adj. Sess.), § E.319.)