(a) Any family or household member may seek relief from abuse by another family or household member on behalf of him- or herself or his or her children by filing a complaint under this chapter. A minor 16 years of age or older, or a minor of any age who is in a dating relationship as defined in subdivision 1101(2) of this chapter, may file a complaint under this chapter seeking relief on his or her own behalf. The plaintiff shall submit an affidavit in support of the order.
(b) Except as provided in section 1104 of this title, the Court shall grant relief only after notice to the defendant and a hearing. The plaintiff shall have the burden of proving abuse by a preponderance of the evidence.
(c)(1) The court shall make such orders as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff or the children, or both, if the court finds that the defendant has abused the plaintiff, and:
(A) there is a danger of further abuse; or
(B) the defendant is currently incarcerated and has been convicted of one of the following: murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, stalking, aggravated stalking, lewd or lascivious conduct with a child, use of a child in a sexual performance, or consenting to a sexual performance.
(2) The court order may include the following:
(A) an order that the defendant refrain from abusing the plaintiff or his or her children, or both, and from interfering with their personal liberty, including restrictions on the defendant's ability to contact the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children, or both, in any way, whether directly, indirectly, or through a third party, with the purpose of making contact with the plaintiff, including in writing or by telephone, e-mail, or other electronic communication, and restrictions prohibiting the defendant from coming within a fixed distance of the plaintiff, the children, the plaintiff's residence, or other designated locations where the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children are likely to spend time;
(B) an order that the defendant immediately vacate the household and that the plaintiff be awarded sole possession of a residence;
(C) a temporary award of parental rights and responsibilities in accordance with the criteria in section 665 of this title;
(D) an order for parent-child contact under such conditions as are necessary to protect the child or the plaintiff, or both, from abuse. An order for parent-child contact may if necessary include conditions under which the plaintiff may deny parent-child contact pending further order of the court;
(E) if the Court finds that the defendant has a duty to support the plaintiff, an order that the defendant pay the plaintiff's living expenses for a fixed period of time not to exceed three months;
(F) if the Court finds that the defendant has a duty to support the child or children, a temporary order of child support pursuant to chapter 5 of this title, for a period not to exceed three months. A support order granted under this section may be extended if the relief from abuse proceeding is consolidated with an action for legal separation, divorce, or parentage;
(G) an order concerning the possession, care, and control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held as a pet by either party or a minor child residing in the household; and
(H) an order that the defendant return any personal documentation in his or her possession, including immigration documentation, birth certificates, and identification cards:
(i) pertaining to the plaintiff; or
(ii) pertaining to the plaintiff's children if relief is sought for the children or for good cause shown.
(d) In a hearing under this chapter, neither opinion evidence of nor evidence of the reputation of the plaintiff's sexual conduct shall be admitted. Evidence of prior sexual conduct of the plaintiff shall not be admitted; provided, however, where it bears on the credibility of the plaintiff or it is material to a fact at issue and its probative value outweighs its private character, the court may admit:
(1) Evidence of the plaintiff's past sexual conduct with the defendant.
(2) Evidence of specific instances of the plaintiff's sexual conduct showing the source of origin of semen, pregnancy, or disease.
(3) Evidence of specific instances of the plaintiff's past false allegations of violations of 13 V.S.A. chapter 59 or 72.
(e) Relief shall be granted for a fixed period, at the expiration of which time the Court may extend any order, upon motion of the plaintiff, for such additional time as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff, the children, or both, from abuse. It is not necessary for the Court to find that abuse has occurred during the pendency of the order to extend the terms of the order. The Court may modify its order at any subsequent time upon motion by either party and a showing of a substantial change in circumstance.
(f) No filing fee shall be required.
(g) Every order under this chapter shall contain the name of the Court, the names of the parties, the date of the petition, the date and time of the order, and shall be signed by the judge.
(h) Form complaints and form orders shall be provided by the Court Administrator and shall be maintained by the clerks of the courts.
(i) When findings are required under this section, the Court shall make either written findings of fact or oral findings of fact on the record.
(j) Every final order issued under this section shall bear the following language: “VIOLATION OF THIS ORDER IS A CRIME SUBJECT TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE, OR BOTH, AND MAY ALSO BE PROSECUTED AS CRIMINAL CONTEMPT PUNISHABLE BY FINE OR IMPRISONMENT, OR BOTH.”
(k) Affidavit forms required pursuant to this section shall bear the following language: “MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS IN THIS AFFIDAVIT IS A CRIME SUBJECT TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE, OR BOTH, AS PROVIDED BY 13 V.S.A. § 2904.”
1979, Adj. Sess., No. 153, § 1; 1981, Adj. Sess., No. 218, § 5; 1983, No. 34; 1985, No. 79, § 3; 1993, Adj. Sess., No. 228, § 2; 2005, Adj. Sess., No. 193, § 4; 2007, Adj. Sess., No. 174, § 11, eff. July 1, 2008; 2013, No. 17, § 8, eff. July 1, 2013; 2015, Adj. Sess., No. 153, § 31, eff. July 1, 2016; 2017, No. 44, § 8, eff. May 23, 2017.