House bill would revamp minor guardianship law in Vermont

Last week the House passed a bill that substantially overhauls Vermont law regarding minor guardianship. Existing law is nearly 100 years old and fails to adequately address the needs of families in this century.

In a nutshell, the minor guardianship procedure in the probate division allows a family to choose someone other than a parent to have custody and responsibility for a child. Most probate guardianships are ordered with the consent of the parent, but some are contested and the rules governing contested cases are currently incomplete. In addition, existing law gives little guidance in handling a guardianship that begins with consent, but later becomes contested when the parent seeks to resume custody.

H.581 addresses all of those issues and lays out a clear road map for parents, guardians and probate judges going forward. It is a significant piece of legislation and reflects the careful work of a dedicated group of stakeholders who met for nearly 18 months and produced a comprehensive report.

The bill now moves to the Senate where we hope it will be passed this session.