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Vermont

CHILD CUSTODY: Joint or sole child custody may be awarded based on the best interests of the child, and upon a consideration of all relevant factors, including the following: (1) the wishes of the parents; (2) the child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community; (3) the relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and other significant family members; (4) the ability and disposition of each parent to provide love, affection, and guidance; (5) the ability of each parent to provide food, clothing, medical care, other material needs, and a safe environment; (6) the ability of each parent to meet the child's present and future developmental needs; (7) the ability and disposition of each parent to foster a positive relationship and frequent and continuing contact with the other parent, including physical contact unless it will result in harm to the child or parent; (8) the quality of the child's relationship with the primary care provider, given the child's age and development; and (9) the ability and disposition of the parents to communicate, cooperate with each other, and make joint decisions concerning the children where parental rights and responsibilities are to be shared. Neither parent is assumed to have a superior right to have custody. No preference to be given because of parent's sex. [Vermont Statutes Annotated; Title 15, Section 665].
§ 665. Rights and responsibilities order; best interests of the child
(a) In an action under this chapter the court shall make an order concerning parental rights and responsibilities of any minor child of the parties. The court may order parental rights and responsibilities to be divided or shared between the parents on such terms and conditions as serve the best interests of the child. When the parents cannot agree to divide or share parental rights and responsibilities, the court shall award parental rights and responsibilities primarily or solely to one parent.
(b) In making an order under this section, the court shall be guided by the best interests of the child, and shall consider at least the following factors:
(1) the relationship of the child with each parent and the ability and disposition of each parent to provide the child with love, affection and guidance;
(2) the ability and disposition of each parent to assure that the child receives adequate food, clothing, medical care, other material needs and a safe environment;
(3) the ability and disposition of each parent to meet the child's present and future developmental needs;
(4) the quality of the child's adjustment to the child's present housing, school and community and the potential effect of any change;
(5) the ability and disposition of each parent to foster a positive relationship and frequent and continuing contact with the other parent, including physical contact, except where contact will result in harm to the child or to a parent;
(6) the quality of the child's relationship with the primary care provider, if appropriate given the child's age and development;
(7) the relationship of the child with any other person who may significantly affect the child;
(8) the ability and disposition of the parents to communicate, cooperate with each other and make joint decisions concerning the children where parental rights and responsibilities are to be shared or divided.
(9) in addition, the court shall consider evidence of abuse, as defined in section 1101 of this title, and the impact of the abuse on the child and on the relationship between the child and the abusing parent.
(c) The court shall not apply a preference for one parent over the other because of the sex of the child, the sex of a parent or the financial resources of a parent.
(d) The court may order a parent who is awarded responsibility for a certain matter involving a child's welfare to inform the other parent when a major change in that matter occurs.

§ 657. Shared or split physical custody
(a) When each parent exercises physical custody for 30 percent or more of a calendar year, the total child support obligation shall be increased by 50 percent to reflect the additional costs of maintaining two households. Each parental support obligation shall be determined by dividing the total support obligation between the parents in proportion to their respective available incomes and in proportion to the amount of time each parent exercises physical custody. The parental support obligations shall then be offset, with the parent owing the larger amount being required to pay the difference between the two amounts to the other parent.
(b) When one parent exercises physical custody for 25 percent or more but less than 30 percent of a calendar year, each parent's respective share of the total support obligation shall be determined in accordance with a shared costs table adopted by the agency of human services by rule. The shared costs table shall be developed in such a way as to minimize economic disputes over parent-child contact or visitation and shall reflect the additional costs of maintaining two households by increasing the total support obligation by 50 percent.
(c) In no event shall a parent be required to pay child support under subsection (a) or (b) of this section in an amount greater than the amount that would have been ordered under the support guidelines.
(d) For purposes of this section, "physical custody" means keeping the children overnight. The parent having custody for the greater period of time shall be considered the custodial parent for the purposes of section 661 of this title.
(e) When each parent has physical custody of at least one of the children, a theoretical support payment shall be determined for each parent for the children in the custody of the other, prorating the obligations among all children in the household. The obligations shall then be offset, with the parent owing the larger amount being required to pay the difference between the two amounts to the other parent. (Added 1985, No. 180 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. April 1, 1987; amended 1989, No. 220 (Adj. Sess.), § 20.)


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