The Vermont Statutes Online
Title 33 : Human Services
Chapter 051 : GENERAL PROVISIONS(Cite as: 33 V.S.A. § 5126)
§ 5126. Retention of jurisdiction over certain vulnerable noncitizen children
(a) Definitions. As used in this section:
(1) “Child” means an unmarried individual who has not yet attained 21 years of age and who is not a U.S. citizen.
(2) “Noncitizen” means any person who is not a U.S. citizen.
(3) “Vulnerable” means there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child’s health, safety, or welfare is in jeopardy due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or similar circumstances and that return to the child’s or the child’s parent’s country of origin or country of last habitual residence would not be in the best interests of the child.
(b) Jurisdiction. The Family Division of the Superior Court may retain jurisdiction over a noncitizen child who has not yet attained 21 years of age for the sole purpose of adjudicating a petition for special findings and making judicial determinations regarding the custody and care of the child consistent with this section. Nothing in this section is intended to expand the scope of the court’s jurisdiction to order a youth into the custody of the Commissioner for Children and Families pursuant to this chapter.
(c) Procedure for petition to make special findings for vulnerable noncitizen children.
(1) A vulnerable noncitizen child, or a person interested in the welfare of the vulnerable noncitizen child, may petition the court for special findings to protect the child and obtain relief from the underlying abandonment, abuse, neglect, or similar circumstance.
(2) In accordance with the procedure set forth in 14 V.S.A. § 3098, the court shall review the petition, including any supporting affidavits and other evidence presented; issue findings of fact; and make relevant conclusions of law consistent with section 5101 of this chapter.
(d) Expeditious adjudication. When it is consistent with the purposes as set forth in section 5101 of this chapter, the court shall hear, adjudicate, and issue findings of fact and conclusions of law on any petition for special findings under this section as soon as it is administratively feasible and prior to the vulnerable noncitizen child attaining 21 years of age.
(e) Additional available remedies under Vermont law; similar findings of fact.
(1) This section shall not limit a child from petitioning for special findings for a petition under any other provision of law or from petitioning for any other rights and remedies available to the child under any other provision of law.
(2) This section shall not limit the court from issuing similar findings of fact or conclusions of law to those described in this section in any other proceeding concerning the vulnerable noncitizen child.
(f) In any judicial proceedings in response to a request that the court make the findings necessary to support a petition under this section, information regarding the child’s immigration status, nationality, or place of birth that is not otherwise protected by State laws shall remain confidential. This information shall also be exempt from public inspection and copying under the Public Records Act and shall be kept confidential, except that the information shall be available for inspection by the court, the child who is the subject of the proceeding, the parties, the attorneys for the parties, the child’s counsel, and the child’s guardian. (Added 2021, No. 98 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2022.)