Legal Rights of Women Handbook


2016 Edition Coming Soon 
VCW will be updating this great resource courtesy of Vermont Law School interns participating in our Cheryl Hanna Legal Rights of Women Internship.  Learn more here


We are pleased to present the The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont. The goal of of this publication is to help you begin to understand your rights and responsibilities under Vermont and Federal Law.  Although this publication focuses on the needs and interests of women, almost all of the laws discussed are applicable to women and men equally.

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.

Laws change – at the end of each chapter is noted the last time the chapter was reviewed and updated. 

Throughout this publication are references to Vermont Commission on Women’s Resource Directory. This publication can help you locate the most local and most appropriate resources related to the issue.  If you are using the online version of The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont, words or phrases colored blue and underlined link directly to the appropriate section of the Resource Directory or to another chapter of The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont.

At the end of each chapter are links to the relevant Vermont and Federal Statutes online. For example, 12 V.S.A. § 5131. et. seq means: Title 12 of the Vermont Statutes, section 5131 and following sections. Although there are chapters listed under each title (which will help you locate the material more quickly) section numbers are consecutive throughout the entire title.

This publication is produced by the Vermont Commission on Women (VCW). VCW is a non-partisan state agency dedicated to legislative, economic, social and political fairness. Launched in 1964 by Governor Hoff, in response to a call to action from President John F. Kennedy, VCW is charged with reducing discrimination and encouraging opportunities for women. Volunteer Commissioners and representatives from organizations concerned with women’s issues guide VCW’s public education, coalition building, and advocacy efforts. VCW offers many services to the public including a toll-free information and referral services line.

If you have questions or comments about this publication, or would like to request it in an alternate format, please contact:
Vermont Commission on Women (VCW)
126 State Street / Montpelier / Vermont / 05633-6801
802-828-2841 / 800-881-1561



Chapter 1: Adoption, Guardianship and Emancipated Minors (PDF file, 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 (PDF file, 86 KB)

  • Consumer Fraud Prevention

  • Addressing Consumer Fraud

  • Credit Transactions

Chapter 3: Domestic Relations (PDF file, 111 KB)

  • Marriage

  • Civil Unions

  • Legal Separation

  • Divorce

  • Uncontested Divorces

  • Contested Divorces

  • Child Support

  • Child Support Enforcement

  • Changing or Modifying Court Orders

  • Separation of Unmarried Couples and Couples Not Joined by Civil Union

  • Establishing Parentage

  • Child Snatching

Chapter 4: Education (PDF file, 82 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 (PDF file, 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 (PDF file, 69 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 Rights in a Marriage/Civil Union

  • Property Rights of Unmarried Couples

Chapter 7: Immigration (PDF file, 80 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 (PDF file, 120 KB)

  • General Insurance Law

  • Health Insurance

  • Life Insurance

  • Disability Insurance

  • Credit Insurance

Chapter 9: Name Changes (PDF file, 48 KB)

Chapter 10: Public Accommodations (PDF file, 59 KB)

Chapter 11: Public Assistance and Government Benefits (PDF file, 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 (PDF file, 54 KB)

Chapter 13: Violence Against Women and Children (PDF file, 155 KB)

  • Victims Compensation

  • 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

  • Kidnapping

  • Hate Crimes

  • Crime Victims Assistance, Notification and Compensation

  • Sex Offender Registry

  • Release of People Accused of a Violent Crime

  • Violent Career Criminals and Habitual Criminals

  • Civil Actions for Crimes Against Women and Children

Chapter 14: Wills, Probate Court, and Advanced Directives (PDF file, 69 KB)

Link to Vermont Commission on Women’s Resource Directory