A court order from a state other than Vermont is called a "foreign order." For example, an order from a New Hampshire court is a foreign order in Vermont.

Before a foreign order can be enforced or modified (changed) in Vermont, it must be registered.

Jurisdiction

A Vermont court must have jurisdiction (authority) over the case before it can modify a child custody order from another state. Which court has jurisdiction may depend on where the parties and the children live, whether the original court still has jurisdiction in the case, and other factors.

Determining jurisdiction can be complicated. Consider talking to an attorney. See the Finding Legal Help web page for information about the ways to get the help of an attorney.

See 15 V.S.A. § 1061 et seq. for more information about jurisdiction in custody cases.

Steps to Register a Foreign Order
  1. Get two copies of the order you want to register from the court that issued the order. One of the copies must be a certified copy.
  1. Fill out these forms:
  • Request to Register Foreign Order (form 400-00313). 
  • Affidavit of Family Division (form 400-00804) to say whether or not the order you’re asking to register has been modified and why the order should be registered in Vermont.
  • Information Sheet (form 800).

You can find forms at the bottom of the page.

  1. File all the documents listed above in the Family Division in the county in which:
  • the children live, or
  • if the children do not live in Vermont, in which one of the parents lives (15 VSA §1085(a)).

See the Filing Procedures web page for more information.

  1. Pay the filing fee.

You can find the filing fee on the Filing Fees web page. Choose Family Division Fees. Scroll down to the listings for “Registration in Vermont of a child custody determination …” The fees vary depending on whether you just want to register the order, or if you also want to enforce or modify the order.

If you can't afford the filing fees, you can ask the court to consider waiving them. See the Application to Waive Filing Fees and Service Costs web page for more information and forms.

Opposing a Request to Register a Foreign Order

The court will send the request to register to all of the people named in the request. If you do not agree with the request to register the foreign order, you have 20 days to ask for a hearing. If no one asks for a hearing, the order is automatically registered.

To ask for a hearing:

  1. Fill out these forms:
  • Response to Motion (form 400-00903)
  • Certificate of Service (form 600-00264)
  • Notice of Appearance for Self-Represented Litigant (form 400-00831)

You can find forms at the bottom of the page.

  1. File all the forms with the court. See the Filing Procedures web page for more information.
  2. Send a copy of the documents to everyone named in the case.

At the hearing, you must prove:

  • The court which made the order did not have jurisdiction to do so,
  • The order has been vacated, stayed or modified, or
  • The person opposing registration was not given proper notice of the request to register.

This process can be complicated. Consider talking to an attorney. See the Finding Legal Help web page for information about the ways to get the help of an attorney.

If you are not able to prove one or more of these things, the order will be registered.

Enforcement and Modification

Once the order is registered, you can ask the Vermont court to either enforce or modify your order, or both.

You can file the request to modify or enforce at the same time as the request to register, or you can ask to modify or enforce at some later time. There is a fee to ask to enforce or modify an order in addition to the fee to register.

See the Modifying and Enforcing Divorce Orders web page and the Parental Rights and Responsibilities and Parent-Child Contact web page for information about enforcing or modifying the registered order, and forms.