VERMONT DIVORCE BASICS AND OVERVIEW
|This is a divorce reference guide to understanding divorce in Vermont. Each state has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the information you need before, during and after your divorce.|
- Time Frame: Vermont does not have a timeline for a divorce. After the plaintiff files a final stipulation, the court clerk schedules a hearing. The date the judge signs the Divorce Order is when the divorce becomes final, which is not necessarily the hearing date.
- Where to File: Family Court. "State of Vermont, Family Court __________County."
- State Statutes: Vermont Statutes Annotated; Title 15, Chapter 11.
- Name of Action: Complaint for Divorce.
- Name of Parties: Plaintiff, the filing spouse, and defendant, the other spouse.
- No-Fault or Fault and No-Fault Only: Both no-fault and fault.
- Primary Documents Filed: Complaint for Divorce and Decree of Divorce.
- Physical Separation Required: For no-fault, six or more months.
- Legal Separation Permitted: Vermont grants a legal separation for any of the causes for which an absolute divorce may be granted.
- Grounds: No-fault, when a married person lives apart from his or her spouse for six consecutive months and the court finds that the resumption of marital relations is not reasonably probable, and on fault, which include adultery, incarceration of either party for life, or for three years or more; intolerable severity, desertion for seven years, failure to support, and incurable insanity.
- Residency Requirement: Either party must reside in Vermont for six months or more before the divorce is filed, but the action shall not be decreed unless either spouse has resided in Vermont one year preceding the date of final hearing.
- Mediation Required: There is no mandatory mediation in Vermont.
- Counseling Required: If one spouse denies that the couple has lived apart for the requisite period of time or alleges that reconciliation is reasonably probable, the court considers all relevant factors, including whether the parties have lived apart long enough and whether the reconciliation of the parties is reasonably probable. The court continues the action for not less than 30 days or more than 60 days.
- Parenting Classes Required: The court may require attendance at parenting classes. Parents receive a Certificate of Completion to provide to the court to fulfill the requirement. The Certificate is filed with the divorce paperwork, and if required by the judge, the divorce will not be granted until the requirement for the class is fulfilled. The program is Separation and Divorce Program/Coping with Separation and Divorce/COPE.
- Filing Fee: About $78.50 to $262. (See VT Filing Fee Waiver Form)
- Where to File for Child Support: The Office of Child Support (OCS) is the state agency responsible for establishing, collecting upon, enforcing, and modifying support orders.
- Child Support Guidelines Model: Vermont uses the Income Shares Model, which estimates the amount of support that would have been available if the marriage had not dissolved. This estimated amount is then divided proportionally to the parents according to each parent's income. This is a very common approach shared by many other states.
In Vermont, the type of custody that is ordered -- sole, split, or shared, helps determines the amount of child support that will actually be paid. Vermont provides specific tables and worksheets to help parents calculate their available income, family expenditures and overall ability to pay the support. A parent can estimate how much he or she may owe or receive from the other parent based on the easy to reference tables. Based on 15 V.S.A. §§650-670: Child Custody and Support, the Vermont courts decide whether a parent has sole custody (when he or she has custody 75 percent of time based on the overnight stays) or split custody (when each parent has sole custody of at least one child). The income shares model begins with a conversion of both parents’ gross income to "available income,” which are listed in a tax conversion table. Parents often agree to a monthly child support obligation that the court will agree is appropriate, but the worksheets and tables are still used as a comparison tool in this type of situation.
- Property Division: Equitable distribution and an all-property regime.
- Appreciation of Separate Property: The appreciation of marital property is marital.
- Attendance at Hearing: Maybe. Some counties do not require a hearing when the spouses file a stipulation/agreement to waive the final hearing.
- Fault Considered in Property Division: Yes.
- Waiting period after Divorce for Remarriage: None.
- Ways to Serve Spouse: A sheriff or deputy sheriff, or a constable or other person authorized by law, may make service of all process, as can "some indifferent person" specially appointed by any superior judge deliver the divorce papers to the non-filing spouse. Most divorce papers are delivered by personal service by hand-delivery by a process server or substituted service by mail.
- Divorce Records: The Vermont Department of Health - Vital Records Office
The Vermont Department of Health - Vital Records Office records divorces and annulments. A Vital Stats Form (divorce certificate) is completed when finalizing a divorce and the form lets the Department of Health know that the Decree of Divorce has been ordered by the county court. It is an official form that must be filed with all other Vermont divorce papers and due to the sensitive nature of the document it is often only released by the Clerk of the court at the final stages of the divorce. The court keeps the Vital Stats Form (divorce certificate) until the Decree of Divorce becomes final. When the Decree of Divorce is final, the court clerk signs the certificate and sends it to the Health Department.