Legal Rights of Women Handbook

The goal of The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont handbook is to help you begin to understand your rights and responsibilities under Vermont and Federal Law.  Written in plain and simple language, this handbook has been a source of information for Vermont women, their families, and professionals that serve them since 1977. 

This publication has been developed with legal assistance, but does not constitute legal opinion or advice.  Legal advice should come from an attorney of your choice who can take into account all the factors relevant to your particular situation.

NOTES:  Laws change.  At the end of each chapter, readers will find a date indiating the last time the chapter was reviewed and updated. Throughout this publication are references and links to  Vermont Commission on Women’s Resource Directory. The directory can help you locate the most local and appropriate resources related to the issue of concern. 

There are also links to other chapters in the handbook as well as links to look up and read state and federal laws at the close of each chapter.  (Reader tip: “12 V.S.A. § 5131. et. seq” means Title 12 of the Vermont statutes, section 5131 and following sections (section numbers are consecutive throughout the entire title).
All documents are PDF icon

7th Edition, 2016 Acknowledgements  (305 KB)


Chapter 1: Adoption, Guardianship & Emancipated Minors  (76 KB)        Chapter 8: Insurance  (120 KB)
Chapter 2: Consumer Protection & Fair Credit   (86 KB)                             Chapter 9: Name & Gender Marker Changes (84 KB)
Chapter 3: Domestic Relations  (275 KB)                                                      Chapter 10: Public Accommodations (90 KB)
Chapter 4: Education  (100 KB)                                                                      Chapter 11: Public Assistance & Government Benefits   (163 KB)
Chapter 5: Employment Rights  (140 KB)                                                     Chapter 12: Reproductive Rights  (54 KB)
Chapter 6: Housing & Property Rights  (93 KB)                                           Chapter 13: Violence Against Women & Children  (321 KB)
Chapter 7: Immigration  (140 KB)                                                                   Chapter 14: Wills, Probate Court, & Advanced Directives  (134 KB)


Chapter 1: Adoption, Guardianship and Emancipated Minors  (76 KB)

Who Can Adopt
Who Can Be Adopted
Procedure for Adoption
Rights of People Who Have Been Adopted
Adoption of Stepchildren and Others
Guardianship of a Minor
Emancipation of a Minor

Chapter 2: Consumer Protection and Fair Credit   (86 KB)

  • Consumer Fraud Prevention

  • Addressing Consumer Fraud

  • Credit Transactions

Chapter 3: Domestic Relations  (275 KB)

Civil Unions
Legal Separation
Establishing Parentage
Child Support
Child Support Enforcement
Enforcement of a Court Order
Changing or Modifying Court Orders
Separation of Unmarried Couples and Couples Not Joined by Civil Union
Child Snatching

Chapter 4: Education  (100 KB)

Discrimination, Harassment, Hazing and Bullying
No Child Left Behind Act
Students With Disabilities
Education of Pregnant and Parenting Students
Grants for Students Formerly in DCF Custody

Chapter 5: Employment Rights  (140 KB)

  • Discrimination and Harassment

  • Parental and Family Leave and other Leave Entitlements

  • Drug Testing

  • Wages

  • Labor Trafficking

  • Unemployment Compensation

  • Workers’ Compensation

  • Workplace Health and Hygiene

Chapter 6: Housing and Property Rights  (93 KB)

Women’s Rights When Renting Or Buying A Home
Rights and Responsibilities of Tenants and Landlords in Vermont
Mobile Home Park Residents’ Rights
Property Taxes
Property Rights in a Marriage/Civil Union
Property Rights of Unmarried Couples

Chapter 7: Immigration  (140 KB)

Becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident (Getting your “Green Card”)
Removal (Deportation) Proceedings
Special Provisions for Battered Immigrants
Special Provisions for Victims of Human Trafficking
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
Immigration and Benefits

Chapter 8: Insurance  (120 KB)

  • General Insurance Law

  • Health Insurance

  • Life Insurance

  • Disability Insurance

  • Credit Insurance

Chapter 9: Name & Gender Marker Changes  (84 KB)

Chapter 10: Public Accommodations  (90 KB)

Public Accommodations – Defined
Sex Discrimination
Sexual Orientation Discrimination
Marital Status Discrimination
Disability Discrimination
Addressing Discrimination

Chapter 11: Public Assistance and Government Benefits   (163 KB)

  • Social Security

  • Supplementary Security Income (SSI)

  • Veterans Benefits

  • Reach Up Program

  • 3SquaresVT (Formerly Food Stamps)

  • Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

  • Child Care Subsidies

  • Essential Person

  • General Assistance (GA)/Emergency Assistance (EA)

  • Emergency Housing

  • Fuel Assistance

  • Weatherization Assistance

  • State-Sponsored Health Insurance Programs

  • Free and Low Cost Medical/Dental Care

  • Medicare

  • HIV Insurance Assistance

  • Lifeline

  • Denials, Reductions or Terminations of Governmental Benefits

Chapter 12: Reproductive Rights  (54 KB)

Chapter 13: Violence Against Women and Children  (321 KB)

Domestic Violence
Sexual Violence
Stalking Offenses
Safety for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence and Stalking
Child Abuse
Sexual Crimes Against Children
Human Trafficking
Abuse of Vulnerable Adults
Hate Crimes
Crime Victims Assistance, Notification and Compensation
Release of People Accused of a Violent Crime
Sex Offender Registry
Violent Career Criminals and Habitual Criminals
Civil Actions for Crimes Against Women and Children

Chapter 14: Wills, Probate Court, and Advanced Directives  (134 KB)

Not Having a Will
Other Forms of Property Distribution
Probate Division of the Vermont Superior Court
Advance Directives for Health Care
Authority and Obligations of an Advanced Directive Agent
Changing, Suspending or Revoking Your Advance Directive

Link to Vermont Commission on Women’s Resource Directory

6th Edition, 2011 Acknowledgements (PDF file, 38 KB)