So now the wait begins, it could be anywhere from a day to many months as the Vermont Supreme Court debates whether Sole Custodian (by all accounts a good parent), who is by Vermont Law the primary care provider with sole custodial rights, can force the visitor (a professional who by all accounts is a good parent) to take Phoebe (name changed to protect the child) to enrichment activities at custodian discretion during visitors "visiting" time.
These are the issues that occupy the brainpower of our esteemed Vermont Supreme Court...and the vast fincial resources of our VT judiciary.
The Vermont Supreme Court hearing was 30 minutes on Tues., 11/3/09, 9:30 AM, Montpelier, VT, Dckt 2009-148. Sitting left to Right were Denise Johnson, John Doley, Paul Reiber, Marilyn Skoglund, and Brian Burgess. The custodian's attorney argued that "visitation" should be reduced to its literal meaning, and require the visitor to conduct all child contact activities as instructed or supervised by the custodian (the soi-called primary care provider). To not comply would be a violation of Vermont Law subject to fines and/or imprisonment. Should the custodian "win" and be "rewarded", thousands of Vermont parents will of course, in the words of Supreme Court Justice, become Chauffers to their very own children
At one point John Dooley asked Custodian's attorney if she felt this would effectively make the visitor a "chauffer" to the children. Attorney danced the question around legalese of the parents not being on equal footing, of rights of the sole custodian, the best interests of the child and how the poor child was suffering from this, etc., but eventually agreed the visitor would seem to become a glorified chauffer. Later Justice Brian Burgess pointed out that the visitor had "failed to achieve legal rights to the children and thus was in fact on substantially inferior footing in regards to rights to parent". The word choice of "failing to achieve" seemed very odd given the State of Vermont has ruled that only one parent, the primary care giver, can have legal rights unless both agree otherwise, so clearly in this instance the visitor did not really even have the ability to "achieve" any legal rights to the children.
Overall, it is very incredibly odd how two perfectly good parents, educated, nice people, are reduced to forfitting their child's financial future over this charade of parental power. Meanwhile the attorney's collect more billable hours, and the the great state of Vermont is reduced to seemingly useless reductionist debates over interpretation of an incredibly convoluted, misleading, and almost nonsensical law (VSA 665).
Surely we the people of Vermont aspire to greater good and goals for the State of Vermont. And surely the Vermont Supreme Court has better things to do with its time.
Hopefully someday Vermont will stipulate equality for all, make family laws simple and straightforward and clear of creating winners and loosers, and stay out of these trivialities except in the instances of criminal behavior. Good parents should not be treated as criminals, because they are not. Vermont should stipulate both parents as equal primary providers for their children and let them be parents.
And we the Vermont taxpayer should not have to pay for all this nonsense.