Vermont needs to update its child custody laws
Nov 12, 2009 | 1654 views | 3 3 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
To the Editor:

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 Shocking but true, Vermont is one of three states (VT, MT, WA) with outdated laws stating parents are not equal.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.

Russell Beste

South Burlington
Comments
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alu777
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September 05, 2010
Mr. Olmstead or may I, Scott,

I understand your heart ache, of trying for years to change the system, and may feel like a failure, but don't give up hope. Even though now your children are grown up; their children deserve better and they still need your help. Even though you feel the Legislature is hopeless or don't have the power, we as a people still have the right to ask till someone does have the power to change this or make it much more equal for all parents to start out with Shared Equal Parenting. As you say there are States starting to be more conservative as in Florida and Conneticut, that isn't good enough. Us Dads want all States to be united; because if one state that is left behind then the children of that state or states are suffering. I won't rest or heed till we have justice in the family courts, and I would also like an apology, for the injustice they cased a lot of Fathers, but more importantly an apology to their children.

Aldo Ursino~
Scott Olmstead
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November 18, 2009
Good luck with that battle. I've tried for years to get the dranconian laws of family court changed to be equal. Until the statute is changed by the "progressive" legislation of the state the judges have no choice in their decision. They have to award full custody to one parent if both parents can't agree to shared.

And the obvious choice is Mom as "all kids should be with their Mom". I moved to Florida in the last few months. Although my kids are now mostly grown I've found that this conservative state has more equal rights to fathers than most. Go figure.
Tom Feine
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November 13, 2009
Hear, hear Mr. Beste, Vermont's laws are like Canada's and they all lead to parent child estrangement and control by the care providing parent. Abominable. Thanks and estranged Dads take hope, your children will grow up, and then see for themselves what was done to them by the law and the agreeing parent.