An editorial in The Burlington Free Press said the following about Jury Duty in Vermont:
"The jury system is based on the belief that every person has an innate sense of justice, and that presented with the facts, any random group of Americans will find the just answer to a case....every able Vermonter should take part and consider the effort part of the price of democracy. It's simple: Anyone who expects to receive justice in Vermont's Courts must be willing to provide it."
You solemnly swear that, without respect to persons or favor of any man, you will well and truly try and true deliverance make, between the state of Vermont and the prisoner at the bar, whom you shall have in charge according to the evidence given you in court and the laws of the state. So help you God.
In certain limited circumstances it is possible for the court to order an emergency temporary guardianship before the evaluation is completed. An emergency temporary guardianship may be ordered only where following the normal court procedures relating to providing notice to the person who is the subject of the guardianship petition and allowing time for completion of the evaluation would cause serious and irreparable harm to the physical health or financial interests of the person who is the subject of the guardianship petition.
An emergency temporary guardianship order may be issued in one of two ways:
It may be issued before the evaluation is completed and following a hearing where the person who is the subject of the guardianship is represented by an attorney, or;
It may be issued before the evaluation is completed and without a hearing.
In order to obtain a temporary emergency guardianship order the person filing the petition for guardianship must also file a Motion for Emergency Temporary Guardian (Form PAG94).
If requesting an emergency temporary order with notice and hearing, a sworn statement that notice of the petition cannot be served as required by the Rules of Probate Procedure due to the emergency need for guardianship must be filed along with the Motion. The court will appoint an attorney for the person who is the subject of the guardianship and set a hearing for the earliest possible date.
If requesting an emergency temporary order without notice and hearing, a sworn statement with specific facts showing that immediate, serious, and irreparable harm will result to the respondent before a hearing on the appointment of an emergency temporary guardian can be held must be filed along with the Motion.
An emergency temporary guardianship order expires when the court makes a final decision on the guardianship petition. If the court has not issued a decision within 90 days of the filing of the petition, the court must hold a hearing to review the need for continuing the temporary guardianship order.
|Adult Guardianships; Minor Guardianships|
In a voluntary guardianship an individual voluntarily requests that a guardian be appointed to assist them in the management of their personal and/or financial affairs. In an involuntary guardianship the request for guardianship is made by a third person, an attorney is appointed to represent the person over whom guardianship is sought, and the court will order an evaluation to determine the need for guardianship. The powers a guardian may hold are the same in both forms of guardianship.
One of the most significant differences between the two kinds of guardianship relates to how the guardianship may be terminated. In a voluntary guardianship the person under guardianship need only write to the court requesting the guardianship be terminated. If the individual’s guardian does not file a written objection to the termination of the guardianship with the court within 10 days, the guardianship terminates automatically and no hearing is required. If the guardian does file a written objection to the termination of the guardianship with the court within 10 days, the proceeding is converted into an application for involuntary guardianship and the court will schedule a hearing. In an involuntary guardianship, someone must file a petition with the court to terminate the guardianship and the court will schedule a hearing on the petition.
You or the person that you want to be guardian of your minor child can petition the Court to appoint a guardian. The Court will hold a hearing on the matter. The Court will try to accommodate your wishes as to who will act as guardian of your child as long as the person you have picked is suitable for the role. The Court will also give the guardian information about reporting requirements, which the guardian will have during the term of the guardianship.
You should write a letter to the Court explaining why the guardianship is not necessary and request that the guardianship be terminated. A hearing will be held to determine if the guardianship should be terminated.
The Court will advise you what of bond is required. Sometimes the Court waives a surety. In this case, you simply sign the bond and return it. If a personal surety is required, often you need a financially responsible person to join with you in the obligation of the bond. If you violate your duties and cause a loss, both you and the surety are potentially liable on the bond. If a commercial surety is required, then you should speak with insurance companies to locate an insurer who writes fiduciary bonds. There will be a bonding fee for this sort of surety depending upon the amount of the bond.
A guardian ad litem is a person appointed by the court to represent the interests of a party, in this case, the minor. The Court appoints someone who is impartial to speak for the party who cannot speak for themselves, due to age or disability, to insure that their interests are protected throughout the proceeding. This is done to insure that the minor’s interests are adequately represented and heard. The court administrator shall reimburse guardians ad litem for necessary and actual expenses incurred in the performance of their duties. (32 V.S.A. ' 1408)
A guardian must exercise guardianship powers in a manner that is least restrictive of the personal freedom of the person under guardianship. The guardian should encourage the person under guardianship to participate in decisions, to act on his or her own behalf when practicable, and to develop or regain the ability to manage his or her personal affairs to the maximum extent possible. The guardian must, to the greatest extent possible, respect the wishes, values beliefs and preferences of the person under guardianship in the exercise of guardianship powers.
A guardian must maintain close contact with the person under guardianship.
A guardian should assure that the person under guardianship receives all benefits and services to which he or she is entitled including public benefits, medical and dental services, therapeutic and habilitation services, adult education, vocational rehabilitation and other appropriate services. Habilitation services are services that enable the person under guardianship to achieve maximum levels of independence.
A guardian must keep the court informed of significant changes in the circumstances of the person under guardianship (such as a major change in the living situation or health status of the person under guardianship or a change in the need for guardianship), and must file annual personal and financial (for a guardian holding financial powers) reports with the court. The guardian must also file a final report with the court when the guardianship is terminated.
A guardian holding financial powers over the income and resources of the person under guardianship may be required to file a bond with the court. The bond stands as an assurance that the guardian will perform his or her duties according to the law and will protect the income and assets of the person under guardianship. While the bond may not require the actual deposit of funds, it may be necessary to have an insurance company act as a guarantor for the guardian’s obligations. This service can be arranged through a local insurance company for a fee. The need for a bond depends on the size and nature of the assets and income of the person under guardianship.
Yes. People who have been summoned for jury service MUST CALL the jury phone message line in their county after 5:00 PM on the day before they are scheduled to appear for jury duty. The phone message number for jurors to call appears on the front page of their Summons. A recorded message will explain whether the jurors are needed in court the next day, as previously scheduled. Jurors should call the phone message line each time before they are scheduled to come to court. A juror who fails to call the jury phone message line, and then appears in court when not needed, will not be paid.
The court has an on-going interest in the person under guardianship and relies on the guardian to keep it informed as to his or her circumstances. In addition to the filing of annual reports, the guardian should keep the court informed of any significant changes in the life of the person under guardianship as they occur, such as a major change in the living situation or health status of the person under guardianship or a change in the need for guardianship. The guardian should report such changes by writing a letter to the court describing the change.
Depending on the extent and nature of the work involved in acting as guardian, and on the assets of the person under guardianship, a guardian may be paid a reasonable fee. What is reasonable depends on such factors as the time expended on guardianship responsibilities, the results achieved, the experience of the guardian, and the complexity of the guardianship. Many guardians serve without charging a fee. Any fee is paid from the estate of the person under guardianship.
A guardian may request payment of a fee by filing a motion with the probate court with copies to all interested persons. The motion should describe the nature and extent of the work for which the guardian is requesting the fee and provide supporting documentation. A guardian may not be paid any fees until all annual personal and financial annual reports have been filed with the court. A guardian should never pay him or herself a fee without the permission of the probate court.
Yes. The person under guardianship or any person interested in the welfare of the person under guardianship may request modification or termination of the guardianship. Some reasons for termination or modification of the guardianship may include:
The death of the guardian;
The failure of the guardian to carry out his or her responsibilities including the failure to file the annual report and accounting;
The failure of the guardian to obey an order of the court;
A change in the ability of the person under guardianship to manage his or her personal or financial affairs;
A change in the capacity or suitability of the guardian for carrying out his or her responsibilities;
The expressed preference of the person under guardianship to have an alternative guardian appointed.
Individuals requesting modification or termination of an existing guardianship should file Probate Form PG78 “Motion to Terminate or Modify Adult Guardianship” with the court. The court will schedule a hearing on the Motion. The court may order an evaluation of the person under guardianship if the modification involves adding additional guardianship powers.
Vermont’s guardianship law requires that guardianship only be ordered when there are no less restrictive alternatives to assist an individual manage his or her personal and financial affairs. Some less restrictive alternatives include:
General power of attorney for individuals who need assistance managing their financial affairs;
An advance directive or durable medical power of attorney for individuals who need assistance in making medical decisions;
Appointment of a representative payee for individuals whose only source of income is Social Security benefits ( Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Income) and need assistance with managing their money;
Supported decision making for individuals who have a circle of family or friends who can assist them in making decisions about their personal and financial affairs;
Case management services through a developmental services provider agency or local Area Agency on Aging;
Establishing a trust;
Partial guardianship tailored only to the specific areas where the individual needs assistance;
The Probate Court deals only with testamentary trusts, which are created by will. If this is the type of trust you are interested in creating, you should discuss it with your attorney when you have your will drawn up. If you are interested in Inter Vivos Trust (also known as living trusts) it falls under the jurisdiction of the Superior Court. Please consult an attorney for further information concerning this subject.
It is always a good idea to have a will even when you have trusts. Many times people obtain property after trusts are set up and the new property may not be included in the trusts. If there is no will, the un-included property can only pass according to statute, which may not coincide with your wishes. Also if the trusts were improperly set up and are not considered valid, then, without a will, the property can only pass according to statute.
If you are concerned about a testamentary trust, then you can contact the Probate Court in person or in writing expressing your concerns. If the trust you are concerned about is not a testamentary trust, it may fall outside of the Probate Court Jurisdiction and you should contact an attorney about the best course to pursue.
Until a minor becomes an adult at age 18, he or she is legally "incapable" of making contracts, or taking other legal actions. A minor is legally subject to the control of his or her parents. Emancipation changes this limitation and allows the child to make contracts and live independently of the control of parents.
The Probate Court may grant a decree of emancipation after notice to the parents and a hearing. To file a petition for emancipation, contact the Probate Court or go to the form link on the emancipation web page to get an emancipation petition and instruction sheet.
In order for the Court to approve a petition for emancipation the Court must be convinced that the minor: (1) is sixteen years or older but still under the age of majority; (2) has lived separately from the parents or guardian for at least three months; (3) is not receiving government assistance; (4) is financially and personally self sufficient; (5) is working toward or already possessing a high school degree or equivalent; (6) is not under legal guardianship or in the legal custody of the commissioner of social and rehabilitative services; (7) is not under the supervision or in the custody of the commissioner of corrections. 12 VSA § 7151(b)
No. Any legal requirement that has and age specific restrictions (drinking age, voting age, etc.) are still effective to limit the actions of the emancipated minor. On the other hand, the minor may make contracts (rental leases, etc.) as any adult.
People have many different reasons for becoming emancipated. Some choose emancipation because they no longer have contact with their parents and feel that they are capable of living on their own. Others become emancipated because they are working and want the freedom to enter into their own contracts and manage their own money. However, emancipation is a major legal step and should be entered into only after serious consideration and examination of alternatives.
Becoming emancipated is like turning 18. You are considered an adult who is responsible for your own care, support, liabilities, and contractual obligations. While still an unemancipated minor you are protected from certain legal actions against you, such as enforcement of contracts. Also, as an unemancipated minor others are responsible for your care and support. Once you become emancipated these protections disappear. Emancipation may affect the tax status that the minor may have as being a "dependant" of another and emancipation may also affect the residency of the minor for school purposes.
To petition for Emancipation the minor must be a resident of the State of Vermont for a period of at least three (3) months.
The law requires that you list the name and address of your parents if known. If the address of your parent(s) is unknown, please attach a separate sheet of paper and explain all the steps you have taken to try to locate a good address. The law requires that notice of the hearing on the emancipation be given to your parents and to any other person or agency who has custody or guardianship of your person. If a petition is pending concerning your custody, such as a petition for delinquency, unmanageability, or neglect in any Court, you must list the name of the Court and the kind of petition that has been filed.
Before the Court can make an order of emancipation it must determine that (a) you are at least 16 years old; (b) that you have lived separate from your parents, custodian, or legal guardian for three months or longer; (c) that you are managing you own financial affairs; (d) that you have demonstrated the ability to be self-sufficient in your financial affairs including proof of employment or other support ("Other support" does not include general assistance, ANFC benefits, or relying upon the financial resources of a person receiving assistance or aid); (e) that you either hold a high school diploma or that you are earning a passing grade in an educational program approved by the Court and directed toward the earning of a high school diploma or its equivalent; (f) that you are not under legal guardianship or in the custody of the Commissioner of Social and Rehabilitation Services or the Commissioner of Corrections; (g) that your emancipation is in your best interests considering such factors as whether you will be able to assume adult responsibilities, your adjustment to being on your own, the opinion of your parents, custodian or guardian, and whether the emancipation will create a risk of harm to you. You may address these factors in your petition and at the hearing. The criteria for becoming an emancipated minor are located at 12 V.S.A. § 7151(b).
The burden is upon you to prove that you are eligible for an Order of Emancipation. If you fail to provide adequate evidence (testimony or documentary) by the conclusion of the hearing, the Court must deny your petition. At the hearing you may present witnesses who are familiar with your circumstances.
Please download a copy of the Emancipation Petition from the above link. Forms are also available in the Probate Court Clerk’s Office during the Court’s normal hours of operation.
The form must be completed, signed and notarized. Documentation of the evidence detailed in Requirements for Emancipation should be included with the petition. These can include but are not limited to: a copy of your high school diploma or GED certificate, school records, proof of employment, proof of residence, proof of approved source of income, and any other documentation that you feel will fulfill the evidence requirements.
Petition can be filed at the Probate Court in the Court Clerk’s Office during the Court’s normal hours of operation. There is no fee for filing a Petition for Emancipation. Please keep a copy of the Petition for your records.
The Vermont Statute for Changing a name is 15 VSA Sec. 811-816 and can be found at Vermont Statutes Online
The Vermont Statute for Minor Guardianship is 14 VSA Secs. 2641 - 2658 and can be found at Vermont Statutes Online
The Vermont Statute for Stepparent/Partner Adoptions is 15A VSA Article 4 and can be found at Vermont Statutes Online.
The Vermont Statute for Non-Relative Adoptions is 15A VSA Articles 1, 2, and 3 and can be found at Vermont Statutes Online.
The Vermont Statute for Near Relative Adoptions are 15A VSA Article 4 as well as 15A VSA Sec. 4-101(b) which can be found at Vermont Statutes Online.
The Vermont Statute for Adult Adoptions is 15A VSA Article 5 and can be found at Vermont Statutes Online.
The Vermont Statute 14 VSA Chapter 41 and 43 (Sections 401 and 461 et.seq.) at Vermont Statutes Online.
The Vermont Statute is 14 VSA Chapter 45, (Section 551.et.seq) atVermont Statutes Online.
The Vermont Statute is 14 VSA Chapter 61, (Section 901 et. seq.) at Vermont Statute Online.
The Vermont Statute is 14 VSA Chapter 63, (Section 1051 et. seq.) atVermont Statutes Online.
The Vermont Statute is 14 VSA Chapter 66, (Section 1201 et. seq.) atVermont Statutes Online.
The Vermont Statute is 14 VSA Chapter 75, (Section 1611 et. seq.) at Vermont Statutes Online.
The Vermont Statute is 14 VSA Chapter 77, (Section 1721 et. seq.) at Vermont Statutes Online.
The Vermont Statute is 14 VSA Chapter 81, (Section 1901 et. seq.) atVermont Statutes Online.
The Vermont Statute is 14 VSA Chapter 1, (Section 1 et. seq.) atVermont Statutes Online.
The Vermont Statute is 14 VSA Chapter 3, (Section 101 et. seq.) atVermont Statutes Online.
The Vermont Statutes are 14 VSA Chapter 105 (Secs. 2301 - 2329) and (Sec.2314 - Concerning Replacement of Intervivos Trustee) at Vermont Statutues Online.
The Vermont Statute is 12 VSA Sec. 7151-7159 at Vermont Statutes Online.
If you have lived in Vermont for at least 6 months, you may file a motion to modify the court order establishing parental rights and responsibilities in Vermont Family Court.
You must send a certified copy of the Final Divorce Order to:
Vermont Supreme Court
109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05609-0701
Marriage licenses may be obtained from your town clerk.
In Vermont, the courts will divide all marital property at the time of your divorce.Virtually all property is considered to be marital property. For instance, property, which you or your spouse inherits, is considered marital property, and property given to you or your spouse by a family member is also considered marital property. The court can also divide property which either spouse owned before the marriage. It does not matter in whose name the property is held.
All marital property will be divided equitably. You and your spouse are in the bestposition to decide what is equitable or fair, and you should make every attempt toagree on a division. If you leave the decision to the judge, the judge will divide theproperty in a way that seems fair to the court. An "equitable division" of propertydoes not necessarily mean a 50/50 split. Sometimes the courts will presume that the
property should be split approximately equally, in the absence of the other factors.
If a piece of property has been in the family of one spouse for many years, it is likelythat the judge will order that piece of property to remain with that spouse. If youcannot agree how to divide other personal property, like kitchen items and furnitureetc., it is likely that the judge will attempt to make your two new householdsfunctional by giving you each some property, unless the marriage is of very shortduration.
The court, by law, has to look at several factors to determine how the propertyshould be divided. Those factors are the following:
1. The length of the marriage;
2. The age and health of the parties;
3. The job and source and amount of income of each of the parties;
4. The vocational skills and employability of each spouse;
5. The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increasedearning power of the other;
6. The value of all property interests, liabilities, and needs of each party;
7. Whether the property settlement is to be awarded instead of, or in additionto, spousal maintenance;
8. The opportunity of each party to obtain future capital assets and income;
9. The desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live there forreasonable periods to the spouse having custody of the children;
10. The party through whom the property was acquired;
11. The contribution of each spouse in the acquisition, preservation, anddepreciation or appreciation in value of the respective estates, including thenon monetary contribution of a spouse as a homemaker; and
12. The respective merits of the parties. (e.g., whether either party was abusive,or committed adultery, or was an alcoholic).
Which factor may be more or less important depends on the individual case, and the judgedoesnothave to place equal weight on each factor.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to divide all your property, you still mayhave some agreement, which you can put in writing and file with the court before thehearing. With personal property (cars, furniture etc.) you should write a list of whatyou cannot agree upon and what you believe the market value is for each item. Ifyou cannot agree on the market value of cars, boats, or other expensive property,
you may want to get an appraisal and bring the appraiser as a witness to thehearing.
You should prepare what you want to tell to the judge in the same manner as thefactors identified above, starting with how many years you have been married, yourage and health etc. You should bring documentation to court that shows the value ofthe property, such as your house appraisal, bank statements, pension or retirementor other investment statements. You should also bring documentation about the
debts on the property and other debts from your marriage.
Unlike child support and parenting plans, the property division cannot be changedafter the divorce is final. This means that once your divorce is granted, the divisionof property is final. It is important, therefore, that your property division is not tied to your child support or your parenting plan.
Once the divorce has been started in the Family Division, decisions must be maderegarding parenting of children, support and what to do with property. Contrary topopular belief, judges rarely decide the difficult questions in the divorce. Most peopledo not like giving up their right to determine for themselves how to take care of theirchildren and how to divide up their property and income. Therefore, most cases areresolved by agreements made by the people involved rather than the judge.
In a contested hearing (trial), the parties present their case to a judge, never to ajury. Each spouse has a limited amount of time in which to present information. Thejudge follows rules (known as the Rules of Evidence,) that often limit the type of
information that may be presented. As a judge can never learn in a trial as muchabout a family and what is best for the children as the families know, people who let
the judge make the decisions are not always happy with the result.
Court orders are created in two ways: You can make your own agreements whichcan be approved by the judge and are made part of a court order, or the judge canmake an order after a contested hearing. Both orders are treated the same way andthe purpose of court orders is to insure that the plan agreed to, or directed by thejudge, is followed. Court orders are enforced through the process of contempt, whichin the most extreme circumstances may result in a jail term for the violator.
By law you have to show to the Court, that it is because of important “unanticipated changes in circumstances.”
You CANNOT make changes to a Final Order dealing with your property.You can request the court change child support, spousal maintenance (alimony)and parental rights and responsibilities.
If there have been important, unanticipated, changes in circumstances after theorder was issued, you may request the court to change part of the divorce plan. Youcannot change the plan outlining how to divide your property, but child support,spousal maintenance (alimony) and parental rights and responsibilities may bemodified. (See pamphlets on Modification of Child Support (#32) and Modification of
Court Orders (#31). The court must approve changes to the divorce order beforethey are valid. Therefore it is important that an agreement reached to change courtorders be put in writing and that you ask the judge to change the divorce order.You can obtain helpful information, as well as court forms at:www.VermontJudiciary.org.
The relationship between children and their parents in a divorce, once called“custody”, is now called Parental Rights and Responsibilities.
There are two major parts to parental rights and responsibilities:
The first is called “Legal responsibility”
This term defines the right and responsibility of a parent to determine and controlmatters affecting a child's welfare and upbringing, other than routine daily care andcontrol of the child. Examples include decisions regarding education, non-emergencymedical and dental care, religion and travel. Basically it is the right to make majorlife decisions for the child.
Legal responsibility may be held solely by one parent, or may be shared betweenboth parents, or divided when at least one child is living with each parent.
The second, is called “Physical responsibility”
This term defines the right and responsibility to provide routine daily care and controlof the child while taking into consideration the right and responsibility of the otherparent to have contact with the child. Basically, it is the right and responsibility tomake daily decisions for a child.
Physical responsibility, like legal responsibility, may be held solely by one parent, ormay be divided or shared.
Parent child contact is the term used to describe what has been known in the past as“visitation.” Visitation is no longer used because of the negative impact it can haveon children. Children are dependent on the love and support of both of their parentsto grow and develop into healthy adults. Children do not visit with one of theirparents. They spend as much quality time as possible with each parent.
Children need to be able to spend as much time as possible with each of theirparents. When parents separate, their children should not be denied the opportunityto spend quality time with each of their parents. If the parents had remainedtogether, the children would have enjoyed access to each parent on a daily basis.Therefore, unless there are good reasons to limit the contact a parent has with the
children, the parenting plan should include contact with both parents on a regularbasis.
The ending of a relationship is often very emotional. Parents may be angry at oneanother over broken commitments and feelings of being deceived and cheated.Children who are exposed to their parents' arguments often blame themselves forthe fights of their parents. Sometimes the children feel they have to pick "sides"between their parents. Parents need to be particularity sensitive to their children and
keep them out of their adult conflicts. Unless physical or emotional abuse is involved,the reasons people have for ending their relationships are not reasons for children to
change their relationship with their parents.
In mediation, parties meet and make their own decision about how to resolve a dispute. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”). It’s an alternative to court (where the judge makes the decision). Courts around the country recommend mediation.
A mediator is a person chosen by the parties who was not involved in the dispute before. A mediator does not make a decision. The mediator helps the parties sort through the issues in the dispute. The mediator also helps the parties discuss possible settlements of the dispute. If the parties agree on a settlement, it’s written down in simple terms; this closes out the court case.
What are the benefits of mediation? What can you expect at your mediation session? How does it work? Who attends? What do you do? This document answers those questions.
Mediation is usually faster than court. The parties and the mediator can schedule a mediation session as soon as possible. In court, parties can wait months for a trial and a decision.
Mediation is more convenient. A mediation session is scheduled for a day and time that’s convenient for the parties. The court schedules trials during the workday.
Mediation is usually cheaper than going to trial, especially if lawyers or expert witnesses are involved in a case or if there are many court documents have to be filed or reviewed.
In mediation, you can tell your side of the story--in your own words. In a mediation, all the parties tell their side of the story, speak less formally than in court, and express their feelings. But the mediator keeps things under control. The mediator focuses on settling the dispute.
A mediation is confidential. In court, documents and hearings are open to the public.
Mediation can help a project applicant, neighbors, and the town resolve other issues related to the dispute and agree on ways to handle any future problems related to the project.
Mediation is less formal that a court proceeding. Mediation gives parties a lot of choice. The parties choose the mediator. They choose a meeting place, like a conference room in a convenient location. They choose a mediation date that’s convenient for all the parties.
The project applicant, the opponents, and a representative of the town usually attend a mediation. If these parties have attorneys, the attorneys would probably also attend the mediation.
In a typical mediation, the parties first meet all together with the mediator. Each side makes an opening statement with no interruptions. The parties (not just their lawyers) say what they feel about the issues and how they want to resolve the case.
Usually (but not always), the parties then discuss the issues together. At some point, they may split up and go to different rooms and the mediator would go back and forth between rooms to talk to different parties (like “shuttle diplomacy”). When a mediator meets alone with just one party without the other parties, this is called a “caucus.” In a caucus, a party and the mediator talk confidentially. They discuss a party’s interests and concerns. The mediator and a party will talk about whether or not what they say in a caucus is told to other parties. The mediator uses the caucus sessions to help the parties come up with settlement ideas and respond to settlements proposed by another party.
If the parties agree on how to settle the dispute, the mediator helps the parties write a simple settlement agreement. The parties may sign it right there. If the mediation doesn’t settle the case, the Environmental Court will proceed with the case and eventually issue a decision.
The Environmental Court maintains a list of mediators who are available to mediate cases throughout the State. The Mediator Roster is available on the Court’s website. People on this list are professionally trained to be mediators. They also have Environmental Court training. You and the other parties can choose any person on this list to be your mediator. You and the other parties can also choose any other qualified mediator, as long as that person is acceptable to all the parties in your dispute.
If you’re not sure about using mediation in your case, or if you have questions about the process, you can call a person on the Mediator Roster to get more information about mediation, or you can speak with the Environmental Court Case Manager.
The cost of paying for a mediator is often split equally among all the parties in a mediation. However, which party pays what percentage of the mediator’s fee (or if one party will pay all the cost) can be discussed and negotiated, either when the parties agree to mediation or in the mediation itself. Different mediators charge different rates. You can compare rates by calling more than one mediator.
Additionally, each mediator on the Environmental Court Mediator Roster has agreed to take one “pro bono” case (that is, at no charge), if asked to do so by the Court. If you believe your income is low enough for you to quality for “in forma pauperis” status, you may petition the Court to assign a mediator to handle your matter “pro bono”.
· Get all the documents or drawings you think are important to explain your side of the case. The mediator may ask you for copies of these and may ask you to send them to other parties.
· Have someone at the mediation who can make a final decision for your side.
· Think about what points you want the mediator and the other side to understand.
· Think about weak points in your case. Think about the strong points of the other side.
· Think about reasonable ways to resolve the dispute that would satisfy you.
· Realize there may be ways to resolve the dispute you haven’t considered. Be flexible.
· Many Environmental Court cases involve neighbors. If your case involves your neighbors, think about what you’d like your relationship with these neighbors to be like in the future.
Marriage licenses may be obtained from your town clerk.
You may apply at the Vermont Superior Court in the county in which you reside. Notaries public serve four year terms; the current term ends February 10, 2011. The fee is $30.00
The Immigration and Naturalization Service is responsible for visa extensions. Contact:
Immigration and Naturalization Service
St. Albans Office
64 Gricebrook Road
St. Albans, VT 05478
National Customer Service number 1-800-375-5283
Please click here to find out how to file a passport.
For expedite information or any other questions, please contact your county Superior Court.
Please click here to find out what the current passport fees are.
Passport applications may be obtained at Vermont Superior Courts (County Courthouses, except Grand Isle, Orleans, Windsor and Windham). You will also need:
A certified copy of your birth certificate; it must include:
- A raised seal;
- A signature from the town clerk’s office;
- The date the certificate was filed with the town clerk.
Two passport photographs (some counties take passport photos)
Either party in a small claims case may appeal to the clerk of the superior court by filing a notice of appeal on a form provided by the court, together with the filing fee of $100.00 within 30 days from the entry of the judgment. An appeal is not a new trial. On appeal, you are not allowed to present new facts nor are you allowed to retry old facts. ALL APPEALS MUST BE FILED NO LATER THAN 30 DAYS FROM THE DATE THE JUDGMENT IS ENTERED. You may wish to consult a lawyer before deciding to appeal a judgment because of the complexity of the process.
Only claims for monetary damages not exceeding $5,000.00 (i.e., claims for the price of goods sold, money lent, rent in arrears, etc.) may be filed in small claims court.
You can sue for up to $5,000.00 in small claims court. If you think someone owes you more than $5,000.00, you can sue in superior court, but the procedure in superior court is more complicated, time-consuming and expensive (you will probably need a lawyer). If your claim is for more than $5,000.00, but you decide to sue in small claims court anyway, you will give up your claim to any amount in excess of $5,000.00 (exclusive of court costs). Even so, it may well be worth your while to choose small claims court because it is less expensive and less complex than superior court.
A claim in excess of the $5,000.00 statutory limit may not be split into two or more claims.
The amount you sue for should include both the actual damage done to you or your property plus any additional money lost as a result of the actions of the party you are suing. For example, if someone ran into your car and did $200.00 worth of damage, and you had to rent a car for $40.00 while yours was being repaired, you should sue for $240.00. At the hearing, you must be able to prove all damages and expenses claimed in order to recover this total amount from the other party.
Small claims court is a people’s court, designed to help people to recover relatively small amounts of money due them without having to hire a lawyer. The procedures are simple, informal, and inexpensive.
Here are a few examples of situations in which you might want to use small claims court:
- If you buy a television or appliance and it breaks down right away, but the dealer refuses to refund your money
- If you sold goods to someone and that person refuses to pay for them
- If a customer refuses to pay on an overdue account
- If someone damages your car, but won’t pay to have the damage repaired and your insurance doesn’t cover it
- If you do work for someone and that person refuses to pay you
- If a mechanic fails to repair your car even though you paid the bill
- If you need to collect past due rent from a tenant
- If your landlord refuses to return your security deposit and you think you are entitled to have it returned to you
You do not need a lawyer. Of course, if you wish, you may have one. The papers you file and the procedures used at the hearing are simple and don’t involve many of the legal technicalities used in other courts. You can argue your side of the case in your own words and present evidence to back it up. By filing in small claims court, you as plaintiff give up your right to a jury trial.
Anyone at least 18 years old with a claim for money damages, (subject to a jurisdictional limit which shall be discussed later) can sue in small claims court. The complaint must be your own; you cannot sue on behalf of a friend or relative. If you are under 18, or under guardianship, your parent or guardian can sue on your behalf. Corporations or partnerships may also sue in small claims court.
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Small claims court is a special part of the Vermont Superior Court, and you are required to sue in the court in the county where you reside or the county where the defendant resides. Under Rule of Small Claims Procedure 2(b), the Court has the authority to change the location of the case to a place in which either party resides.
Amicus Curiae/Intervenor's Brief--Green
The Court may reject briefs and printed cases that do not comply with these rules. See V.R.A.P. 32(a). These requirements do not apply to filings of pro se parties.
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Motions and responses to Motions
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Mediation is a process in which separated parents define their differences, explore their interests, evaluate possible solutions, and create written agreements.
Mediation can occur before, during, and after a separation and/or divorce or civil union dissolution.
The mediators are neutral and do not represent any one point of view. They do not decide who is right or wrong but help parties communicate in an informal and confidential setting.
The mediation sessions are focused on the parents making agreements about things like: decision making about the children, parent to parent communication, parent-child contact schedules, division of property and debt, support of spouse and/or children, tax issues, etc.
- If you want to make your own decisions together regarding your separation and/or divorce rather than having lawyers negotiate for you, or rather than having a Judge make these decisions
- If you would like to work out arrangements in a setting more private and confidential than Family Court
- If you would like to reduce conflict and attempt to come to some agreements with the other party
Mediation does not work in cases when one or both parties wish to use the separation or divorce process to “punish” or “get even” with the other.
If either party feels fearful or terribly intimidated by the other, because of past or current psychological or physical abuse, then mediation is not appropriate.
If either party is engaging in habitual substance abuse (such as alcohol or drugs), mediation may not be helpful. People who are dependent upon regular substance abuse often have difficulties keeping their agreements, thus mediation in these cases frequently fails.
The mediator provides a setting and structure where each person can fully describe his or her own point of view.
The mediator helps parties along by asking relevant questions. This helps each person to clarify what issues they feel are important.
There is an opportunity to identify and compare possible solutions and outcomes.
The mediator will draft a memo reflecting your agreements. You may choose to bring this document to attorneys and/or submit the document directly to the Family Court for approval and to be ordered by a Judge.
Mediation provides a structure at a time when communication is often difficult.
Parents learn to make the change from being conflicting spouses to cooperating co-parents.
Children benefit from the example of their parents working out their differences.
Agreements made in mediation are usually more workable, thus less likely to return to Family Court than arrangements ordered by a Judge.
Mediation is often much less expensive than other processes of negotiation and resolution.
Most mediation sessions are one to two hours long.
The number of sessions parents may need depends on their level of conflict and the number of issues they want to address. Most parties are able to resolve some or all of their issues in two to six sessions
Most mediators charge on an hourly basis.
The mediators listed are contracted with the Vermont Superior Court Family Mediation Program. They are able to slide their fee depending upon your household income and other qualifications.
Since the whole community cannot serve at the same time, the courts must have a way to randomly choose a group which represents the community for each trial. Jurors often wonder how this is done and how they were chosen.
In Vermont, people are called to jury service in the same county in which they live. A list of prospective jurors is electronically compiled from the voter registration checklists of each town or city and a list of licensed drivers. When jurors are needed for a trial, a randomly selected list of names from the appropriate county is generated by computer. A Summons and Jury Service Questionnaire is then sent to each person on the randomized list. Jurors are required to complete the questionnaire either on the internet or on paper, then submit it to the Jury Administration Office. The completed questionnaires are used by the Court in making the final selection of jurors for a trial.
Once the file is open, left click in the first cell you will need to type information into, type in the information, hit the tab key to move to the next field that will need to be filled in, continue to hit the tab key after each entry to navigate through the fields until the form is completed. Where possible, the tabs have been organized to lead you from one field to another in the order in which the each field or box needs to be completed. If at any time you want to go to a certain field, you can click in that field. If the field requires a "checkmark" or "X" you will need to place the mouse cursor over the field and left click in the field to have one appear. Hit tab to continue filling out the form.
Yes. Consulting with an attorney is always advisable when making legal decisions. Although the mediators can give you information about the legal process, mediators cannot give legal advice.
Although you are certainly not required to get legal advice, many people find that they benefit from obtaining legal counsel before, during or upon completion of the mediation process.
Parties often choose to have separate attorneys review their final written agreements made in mediation.
Separating parents often desire a fair and cooperative solution, one without the financial and emotional cost of a contested hearing.
Mediation is a voluntary and private means of resolving the issues of separation and divorce.
It is a less formal process than public Family Court hearings.
Mediators can spend more time with you both and may produce documents that contain more detail than the staff at Family Court.
The end result of the mediation sessions is a written document that clearly defines and outlines the agreements the two of you have reached.
The goal of mediation is the resolution of a specific set of issues you present to the mediator.
There is not an in-depth exploration of the aspects of the former relationship, as mediators do not provide psychological counseling.
The mediator may focus the attention of the parents away from the past, to concentrating on making specific plans for the present and future.
If you are able to agree on some, but not all issues, the things that you do agree upon can be written up in a document for you to take to a lawyer for review. If you choose not to use an attorney, you can submit the document directly to the Family Court for approval.
You can also look to other means of resolving the remaining contested issues such as using an attorney’s assistance in negotiation and/or asking the Family Court to schedule a hearing to resolve the remaining issues.
To start the Mediation Process read the Mediation Process located under information onthis page.
Mediators are contracted with the Court Administrator of the Vermont Supreme Court.
Families who use subsidized mediation will be asked to fill out a client satisfaction form. This form will be provided to you by your mediator and will include a self-addressed stamped envelope so the form can be mailed directly to the Vermont Superior Court Family Mediation Program anonymously.
Any complaints or concerns should be directed to the mediator and to the Vermont Superior Court Family Mediation Program 802-828-4290.
The Vermont Superior Court Family Mediation Program is based upon the philosophy that children benefit when their parents are able to protect them from destructive adult conflict and can cooperatively work towards solutions.
The Parent Coordinators are specially trained experienced professionals under contract with the Court Administrator who provide a specific type of dispute resolution service to high-conflict, income eligible parents on a sliding fee basis.
Parent Coordination gives both parents and children a chance to be heard in a child-focused, non-confidential and non-neutral process. Separated parents meeting individually with the Parent Coordinator are encouraged to resolve the conflicts about their children. The goal of the process is to minimize the children’s exposure to adult conflict and to reduce the risk of danger to all family members. Parent Coordinators also assist parents and children to connect with other resources in the community for help and support.
Parent Coordination helps parents work out issues such as: visitation and exchanges, health and safety issues, how decisions will be made for the children, how parents will communicate, etc.