Title 15: Domestic Relations
Chapter 11: ANNULMENT AND DIVORCE
15 V.S.A. § 665. Rights and responsibilities order; best interests of the child
§ 665. Rights and responsibilities order; best interests of the child
(a) In an action under this chapter the court shall make an order concerning parental rights and responsibilities of any minor child of the parties. The court may order parental rights and responsibilities to be divided or shared between the parents on such terms and conditions as serve the best interests of the child. When the parents cannot agree to divide or share parental rights and responsibilities, the court shall award parental rights and responsibilities primarily or solely to one parent.
(b) In making an order under this section, the court shall be guided by the best interests of the child, and shall consider at least the following factors:
(1) the relationship of the child with each parent and the ability and disposition of each parent to provide the child with love, affection and guidance;
(2) the ability and disposition of each parent to assure that the child receives adequate food, clothing, medical care, other material needs and a safe environment;
(3) the ability and disposition of each parent to meet the child's present and future developmental needs;
(4) the quality of the child's adjustment to the child's present housing, school and community and the potential effect of any change;
(5) the ability and disposition of each parent to foster a positive relationship and frequent and continuing contact with the other parent, including physical contact, except where contact will result in harm to the child or to a parent;
(6) the quality of the child's relationship with the primary care provider, if appropriate given the child's age and development;
(7) the relationship of the child with any other person who may significantly affect the child;
(8) the ability and disposition of the parents to communicate, cooperate with each other and make joint decisions concerning the children where parental rights and responsibilities are to be shared or divided; and
(9) evidence of abuse, as defined in section 1101 of this title, and the impact of the abuse on the child and on the relationship between the child and the abusing parent.
(c) The court shall not apply a preference for one parent over the other because of the sex of the child, the sex of a parent or the financial resources of a parent.
(d) The court may order a parent who is awarded responsibility for a certain matter involving a child's welfare to inform the other parent when a major change in that matter occurs.
(e) The jurisdiction granted by this section shall be limited by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, if another state has jurisdiction as provided in that act. For the purposes of interpreting that act and any other provision of law which refers to a custodial parent, including but not limited to 13 V.S.A. § 2451, the parent with physical responsibility shall be considered the custodial parent. (Added 1985, No. 181 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; amended 1993, No. 228 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 2011, No. 29, § 3.)