About the Committee

The Supreme Court adopts the rules of practice and procedure for all state courts. The Supreme Court appoints advisory committees to assist in keeping the rules up-to-date. The tasks of the Advisory Committee on Rules for Family Proceedings include:

  • Reviewing the operation and effectiveness of the family rules
  • Receiving proposals to change rules or adopt new rules
  • Making proposals to change rules or adopt new rules and sending these proposals to the Supreme Court
  • Sending proposed rules to the bar and public for comment and, when required, holding public hearings on proposed rules or rule changes
  • Receiving comments

Once a proposal has been sent out for comment, the committee may make further changes or may recommend that the Supreme Court adopt the change. The Supreme Court is responsible for promulgating any amendment

The committee includes:

  • One layperson with interest and expertise in family matters
  • Secretary of the Agency of Human Services or designee
  • Attorney general or designee
  • A designee of the Department of State's Attorneys
  • Defender general or designee
  • Four lawyers from private practice with interest and experience in family matters
  • A designee of Vermont Legal Aid
  • A probate judge
  • A Family Division magistrate
  • Three superior judges
  • One superior court clerk
  • The chair of the Vermont Bar Association’s corresponding standing committee

The designees of the secretary, the state's attorneys, the defender general, the attorney general, and Vermont Legal Aid are subject to the approval of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court designates the chair of the committee. The Supreme Court also appoints a reporter for the committee. The reporter revises or drafts rules at the request of the committee or the Supreme Court. The reporter's notes, which are published in the rules, explain the history and application of the rules.

Committee Members

Honorable Michael Kainen

Superior Judge, Chair

Honorable Beth Robinson

Liaison from Supreme Court

Honorable Amy Davenport (Ret.)


Patricia G. Benelli, Esq.

VBA Member

Honorable Gregory Glennon

Probate Judge

Honorable Megan Shafritz

Superior Judge

Honorable Thomas Carlson

Superior Judge

Honorable Christine Hoyt

Family Division Magistrate

Margaret Villeneuve

Superior Court Clerk

Jody Racht, Esq.

Attorney General Designee

Sarah Haselton, Esq.

Secretary of the Agency of Human Services Designee

Susan M. Ellwood, Esq.


John Wilson


Alycia Sanders, Esq.


Thea Lloyd, Esq.Member

Karen K. Reynolds, Esq.

Department of State’s Attorneys Designee

Marshall Pahl, Esq.

Defender General Designee

Laura Bierley, Esq.

Vermont Legal Aid Designee


Contact Information

Honorable Michael Kainen
Windham Civil Division
P.O. Box 207
Newfane, VT 05345