There was a significant Vermont Supreme Court case Tuesday, November 3, that potentially affects thousands of divorced Vermont parents. Shocking but true, Vermont is one of three states (VT, MT, WA) with outdated laws stating parents are not equal. Rather, Vermont defines parenting as comprising a “primary caregiver ” and a “visitor.” The primary caregiver is generally recognized as the parent who spends the most daytime at home with the child. The working parent, the National Guardsmen working abroad, etc., are all by Vermont law usually “visitors” with potentially no custodial rights to their own children.
The consequences of this distinction become vast if the parents separate, for Vermont law (Title 15 A§V.S.A. 665(b6)) indicates the primary caregiver usually then receives permanent exclusive rights for their children. The “visiting” parent loses virtually all say in their child’s development; for example, they are not allowed to take their child to the doctor (except in emergency), or allowed to enroll their child in a class.
The case is a far-reaching case to define “visitor” by its literal meaning and empower the primary caregiver to dictate all visiting parent enrichment activities such as play dates. For the visitor not to comply would be a violation of law subject to fines and/or imprisonment of the “visiting” parent. This also results in a vast financial windfall for the primary provider.
This is terribly wrong. Vermont parents are not criminals, they should be assumed equal. This Vermont law of parental inequality actually forces parents to fight in court, all at the expense of children, and to the vast profit benefit of armies of lawyers and psychologists. In fact, over one-third of all Vermont court activity (consuming over $20 million of taxpayer money per year) is now family law, and over 80% of Vermont law firms now practice family law.
We ask you to help us bring parental equality to Vermont, to stop the judicial monetary waste, and to curtail the gaming of courts by the Vermont psycho-judicial business complex. Please visit our Web site and help the Vermont Freedom to Parent (www.vtfreetoparent.org) Please help stop this inequality.