The Vermont Statutes Online
Title 33 : Human Services
Chapter 051 : GENERAL PROVISIONS(Cite as: 33 V.S.A. § 5125)
§ 5125. Reinstatement of parental rights
(a) Petition for reinstatement.
(1) A petition for reinstatement of parental rights may be filed by the Department for Children and Families on behalf of a child in the custody of the Department under the following conditions:
(A) the child’s adoption has been dissolved; or
(B) the child has not been adopted after at least three years from the date of the court order terminating parental rights.
(2) The child, if 14 years of age or older, may also file a petition to reinstate parental rights if the adoption has been dissolved, or if parental rights have been terminated and the child has not been adopted after three years from the date of the court order terminating parental rights. This section shall not apply to children who have been placed under permanent guardianship pursuant to 14 V.S.A. § 2664.
(b) Permanency plan. The Department shall file an updated permanency plan with the petition for reinstatement. The updated plan shall address the material change in circumstances since the termination of parental rights, the Department’s efforts to achieve permanency, the reasons for the parent’s desire to have rights reinstated, any statements by the child expressing the child’s opinions about reinstatement, and the parent’s present ability and willingness to resume or assume parental duties.
(1) The court shall hold a hearing to consider whether reinstatement is in the child’s best interests. The court shall conditionally grant the petition if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that:
(A) the parent is presently willing and has the ability to provide for the child’s present and future safety, care, protection, education, and healthy mental, physical, and social development;
(B) reinstatement is the child’s express preference;
(C) if the child is 14 years of age or older and has filed the petition, the child is of sufficient maturity to understand the nature of this decision;
(D) the child has not been adopted, or the adoption has been dissolved;
(E) the child is not likely to be adopted; and
(F) reinstatement of parental rights is in the best interests of the child.
(2) Upon a finding by clear and convincing evidence that all conditions set forth in subdivision (1) of this subsection exist and that reinstatement of parental rights is in the child’s best interests, the court shall issue a conditional custody order for up to six months transferring temporary legal custody of the child to the parent, subject to conditions as the court may deem necessary and sufficient to ensure the child’s safety and well-being. The court may order the Department to provide transition services to the family as appropriate. If during this time period the child is removed from the parent’s temporary conditional custody due to allegations of abuse or neglect, the court shall dismiss the petition for reinstatement of parental rights if the court finds the allegations have been proven by a preponderance of the evidence.
(d) Final order. After the child is placed with the parent for up to six months pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, the court shall hold a hearing to determine if the placement has been successful. The court shall enter a final order of reinstatement of parental rights upon a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that placement continues to be in the child’s best interests.
(e) Effect of reinstatement. Reinstatement of parental rights does not vacate or otherwise affect the validity of the original order terminating parental rights. Reinstatement restores a parent’s legal rights to his or her child, including all rights, powers, privileges, immunities, duties, and obligations that were terminated by the court in the termination of parental rights order. Such reinstatement shall be a recognition that the parent’s and child’s situations have changed since the time of the termination of parental rights, and reunification is appropriate. An order reinstating the legal parent and child relationship as to one parent of the child has no effect on the legal rights of any other parent whose rights to the child have been terminated by the court; or the legal sibling relationship between the child and any other children of the parent. A parent whose rights are reinstated pursuant to this section is not liable for child support owed to the Department during the period from termination of parental rights to reinstatement. (Added 2015, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. Sept. 1, 2016.)