Vermont Divorce Laws
The state of Vermont has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.
We are providing this online divorce information to you as an easy divorce reference guide to help you while you are doing your own divorce. This information (and much more) is available inside your personal 3StepDivorce account area in order to help you understand how Vermont addresses the most important issues in the divorce process and certain elements throughout your divorce forms.
The following overview of Vermont divorce laws will help you understand the filing procedure and other primary issues concerning your divorce. Please keep in mind that our Vermont online divorce service and support staff will make the process easy for you from start to finish. We take the difficulty out of doing your own divorce.
Residency Requirements: In order to file for a divorce in Vermont, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:
A complaint for divorce or annulment of marriage may be brought if either party to the marriage has resided within the state for a period of six months or more, but a divorce shall not be decreed for any cause, unless the plaintiff or the defendant has resided in the state one year next preceding the date of final hearing. Temporary absence from the state because of illness, employment without the state, service as a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, or other legitimate and bona fide cause, shall not affect the six months' period or the one year period specified in the preceding sentence, provided the person has otherwise retained residence in this state.
The divorce may be filed in the county in which either the husband, wife or both reside. (Vermont Statutes - Title 15 - Section 555)
No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested divorce cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of Vermont the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:
(A) When a married person has lived apart from his or her spouse for six consecutive months and the court finds that the resumption of marital relations is not reasonably probable. (Vermont Statutes - Title 15 - Section 551 and 555)
Filing Party Name: The Plaintiff. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the divorce and is the one who actually files the Complaint for Divorce with the county court.
Non-Filing Party Name: The Defendant. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested divorce versus a contested divorce. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.
Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: State of Vermont, Family Court, __________ County. All divorce cases in the state of Vermont are facilitated through this court for that particular county.
Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a Vermont clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: County Clerk's Office of the Family Court.
Property and Debt Division: Vermont is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.
In making a property settlement the court may consider all relevant factors, including but not limited to: (A) the duration of the marriage; (B) the age and health condition of the parties; (C) the occupation, source and amount of income of each of the parties; (D) vocational skills and employability; (E) the contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other; (F) the value of all property interests, liabilities, and needs of each party; (G) whether the property settlement is in lieu of or in addition to maintenance; (H) the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income; (I) the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live there for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of the children; (J) the party through whom the property was acquired; (K) the contribution of each spouse in the acquisition of the marital property (L) the respective merits of the parties. (Vermont Statutes - Title 15 - Section 751)
Changing Name: Upon granting a divorce to a woman, unless good cause is shown to the contrary, the court may allow her to resume her maiden name or the name of a former husband.
Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.
When making a support award the court will consider all relevant factors including, but not limited to: (a) the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, the property apportioned to the party, the party's ability to meet his or her needs independently, and the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party contains a sum for that party as custodian; (b) the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment; (c) the standard of living established during the marriage; (d) the duration of the marriage; (e) the age and the physical and emotional condition of each spouse; (f) the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her reasonable needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance; and (g) inflation with relation to the cost of living. (Vermont Statutes - Title 15 - Section 752 and 757)
Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the Vermont courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.
The court shall not apply a preference for one parent over the other because of the sex of the child, the sex of a parent or the financial resources of a parent.
The court shall consider at least the following factors when making a custody award: (A) the relationship of the child with each parent and the ability and disposition of each parent to provide the child with love, affection and guidance; (B) the ability and disposition of each parent to assure that the child receives adequate food, clothing, medical care, other material needs and a safe environment; (C) the ability and disposition of each parent to meet the child's present and future developmental needs; (D) the quality of the child's adjustment to the child's present housing, school and community and the potential effect of any change; (E) the ability and disposition of each parent to foster a positive relationship and frequent and continuing contact with the other parent (F) the quality of the child's relationship with the primary care provider, if appropriate given the child's age and development; (G) the relationship of the child with any other person who may significantly affect the child; (H) the ability and disposition of the parents to communicate, cooperate with each other and make joint decisions concerning the children where parental rights and responsibilities are to be shared or divided; and (I) evidence of abuse.
The court may order a parent who is awarded responsibility for a certain matter involving a child's welfare to inform the other parent when a major change in that matter occurs. (Vermont Statutes - Title 15 - Section 664)
Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the Vermont child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.
Except in situations where there is shared or split physical custody, the total child support obligation shall be divided between the parents in proportion to their respective available incomes and the noncustodial parent shall be ordered to pay, in money, his or her share of the total support obligation to the custodial parent. The custodial parent shall be presumed to spend his or her share directly on the child.
The court may adjust the amount of child support by considering the following factors: (A) the financial resources of the child. (B) the financial resources of the custodial parent. (C) the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marital relationship not been discontinued. (D) the physical and emotional condition of the child. (E) the educational needs of the child. (F) the financial resources and needs of the noncustodial parent. (G) inflation. (H) the costs of meeting the educational needs of either parent, if the costs are incurred for the purpose of increasing the earning capacity of the parent. (I) extraordinary travel and other travel-related expenses incurred in exercising the right to parent-child contact. (J) any other factors the court finds relevant.
Also, If the parties agree, the court may include in the child support order an additional amount designated for the purpose of providing for postsecondary education. (Vermont Statutes - Title 15 - Section 653 through 669, and 757)
Copyright Notice: These Vermont divorce laws above are copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.
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