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Due Process and Vermont's Abuse Prevention Statute

NCJ Number
Vermont Law Review Volume: 7 Issue: 1 Dated: (Spring 1982) Pages: 185-204
R Opel
Date Published
20 pages
This paper evaluates the emergency relief provisions of Vermont's Abuse Prevention Statute to determine its compliance with due process requirements under the Constitution and its implications for courts and lawmakers.
The Vermont law grants immediate relief for abuse within the family through protective orders issued ex parte without notice or an adversary hearing. The court can order the batterer to refrain from further abuse or to restrain the plaintiff's liberty or to vacate the premises. Upon finding children are in immediate danger of abuse, the court may award the plaintiff sole custody. These provisions can be an effective tool for lowering the barriers for battered wives seeking protection. The Supreme Court, by permitting deprivation of property when conditions designed to minimize error are met, has made possible the effective protection of battered wives from the moment they decide to act. There are legitimate reasons, however, for seriously questioning laws which permit ex parte deprivations. Family violence may well be symptomatic of underlying feelings of frustration and disconnection on the part of perpetrators. If that is the case, enacting laws which do not allow people to state their positions to impartial government authorities before being deprived of fundamental interests may breed further frustration and exacerbate family violence. The paper contains 139 footnotes.


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