You must follow a series of legal processes and procedures when you file for divorce in Vermont. Here are some important things you should know.
- What Information Should I Gather to Prep for Divorce in Vermont?
- Determining Which Divorce Procedure to Use
- What Forms Do I Need?
- How Do I File My Forms?
- How Do I Serve My Forms on My Spouse?
- What are the Steps for Getting a Divorce After I’ve Filed?
- FAQs About Getting a Divorce in Vermont
What Information Should I Gather to Prep for Divorce in Vermont?
This step is critical because it will save time and aggravation when you’re organized and responsive while going through your divorce.
Pulling together the information you’ll need to make your best case can take quite a while, so it’s best to start early. Consider gathering information before you even make your spouse aware of your intentions so that they can’t thwart your efforts by hiding information once you make your intentions known.
To see what information you’ll need, we’ve prepared a Divorce Information Checklist. You can access it as part of our article, The Ultimate Divorce Checklist: The Information You Need to Prepare for Divorce.
Determining Which Divorce Procedure to Use
In Vermont, you have several options on which process you’ll use to get a divorce. Which one you choose is driven in large part by your levels of trust and cooperation with your spouse, and the types of issues you need to resolve.
To see what might be best for your situation check out our article What Are the Types of Divorce? before deciding how to proceed.
What Forms Do I Need?
If you are the spouse filing for divorce in Vermont, you’re known as the plaintiff. If you are the spouse receiving papers, you are the defendant.
The main form you file to start a divorce case is called a complaint.
In Vermont, there are three ways to complete this form.
- You can use CourtFormPrep. This is an online tool that helps you fill out the complaint form. It is an interview-style program that walks you through a series of questions. It then generates the forms you need to start your divorce.
- Once the online interview is complete, you can print out the forms, sign them and have them notarized before filing them with the court.
- You can get paper versions of the court forms you need and fill them out by hand.
- You can complete forms online and print them out when you are done. Note that there are one set of forms if you have no children and another set of forms if you do.
If you need help getting these forms, you can call or go to your local family court.
In addition to the complaint, if you have children, you should complete the following:
- Combined Summons, Complaint for Divorce, Notice of Appearance, and Affidavit of Child Custody – Complaint for Divorce/Legal Separation/Dissolution with Children (400-00836 With Children)
- Information Sheet (Form 800)
- Health Department information
- First page of the Child Support Order form (400-00802)
- Income and Expense Affidavit: Financial Affidavit (400-00813A)
- Property and Assets Affidavit: Financial Affidavit Property and Assets (400-00813B)
If you do not have minor children, you should fill out the following:
- Combined Summons, Complaint for Divorce, and Notice of Appearance
- Complaint for Divorce/Legal Separation/Dissolution without Children (400-00836 without Children)
- Information Sheet (Form 800)
- Health Department information
How Do I File My Forms?
Once your forms are complete, hand carry or mail them to the family division of the Superior Court in the county where you or your spouse lives.
How Do I Serve My Forms on My Spouse?
After you file, you’ll need to legally notify your spouse of your intention to divorce them by serving them with the summons and complaint. This is known as process of service.
The process may be different if you and your spouse have minor children. For more information about serving papers, you can follow Vermont’s online instructions.
What are the Steps for Getting a Divorce After I’ve Filed?
As you file paperwork with the court, you must complete proof of service by having the paperwork legally served on your spouse. Vermont’s online instructions will give you exact instructions on how to accomplish this.
Once complete, you must submit proof to the court to verify that this important step has been completed.
Your spouse will then have 21 days to file an answer with the court. As a defendant, the 21 days start on the date the sheriff serves you, the date you sign an acceptance or acknowledgment, or the date you sign for the papers at the post office. If you need more time, you can make a written request to the court for more time.
Your answer can include a counterclaim if you want. This is basically your own divorce complaint. It is often a good thing to file this to protect your rights.
If you don’t file an answer, your spouse can request a default judgment against you without your input or participation.
After the complaint is filed and the papers are served, you and your spouse will start getting notices and orders from the court, including actions such as an Interim Domestic Order, Order Regarding Parenting Course and others.
This will be followed by a case management conference to work out issues related to parenting, child support, health insurance and an initial discussion about assets and debts.
It may be possible to enter into mediation to resolve your differences. Mediators do not decide who is right or wrong. Instead, they help you find practical solutions to avoid unnecessary conflicts.
The Vermont Superior Court Family Mediation Program provides subsidized mediation services to some people. You can find more information about family court mediation, including a list of family court mediators, here.
When you can’t reach an agreement, you will need to go to trial and present evidence and testimony in front of a judge. The judge will decide the issues and render a settlement but your divorce will not be final for another three months.
If you want to appeal a final divorce judgment, you must file your Notice of Appeal within 30 days of the judgment.
FAQs About Getting a Divorce in Vermont
How much does it cost to file for a divorce?
That fee to file for a divorce in Vermont is $90 with a stipulation and when one or both spouses are resident. The fee is $180 with a stipulation if neither party is resident
For a complete list of all Vermont court Family Division fees, go here.
Learn More: A Guide to Divorce Financial Planning
Can divorce fees be waived?
If you receive public assistance, are on a fixed income, or have a low-paying job, you can ask the court to waive the filing fee by filing an Application to Waive Filing Fees and Service Costs.
If you qualify and the court approves your application, you won’t have to pay the fee. For more information about waiving the filing fee, click here.
Can I file for divorce online?
No. In some instances, you can fill out your forms online, but you’ll need to print them out and file them in person at your local county courthouse.
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Can I file for divorce without a lawyer?
Yes. You do not need an attorney in Vermont to handle your divorce case.
If you and your spouse can agree on all issues, this may be a good option for you. But if there are any conflicts, it might be wise to retain an attorney to protect your interests.
What are the residency requirements for getting a divorce?
To file for divorce in Vermont, you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months. One of you must have lived continuously in Vermont for at least a year before the final divorce hearing can be held.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Vermont?
It depends on several factors.
For example, divorces take longer if you have minor children. The court won’t schedule a hearing until at least six months after your divorce starts.
For a no-fault divorce in Vermont, you and your spouse must live separate and apart for at least six consecutive months and that you are not likely to get back together.
You can file for divorce before you separate, during, or after you separate. But you can’t have a final divorce hearing until you’ve been separated for six months.
It’s possible to live separate and apart but still live in the same house as long as you sleep in separate rooms and keep your households separate.
After your final divorce hearing, there is also a three-month period before your divorce is final.
In a contested divorce, the process can take much longer. You’ll need to negotiate unresolved issues to reach agreement, sometimes through mediation or a collaborative divorce process.
Depending on the complexity of your issues and the degree of cooperation with your spouse, this could take several months to resolve.
When you can’t reach agreement, you may have to appear in front of a judge and make your case as part of a trial. This is the costliest form of divorce and can take a year or more to resolve.
Can I file for divorce while I’m pregnant?
You can file for divorce, but be aware that in 2018, Vermont laws changed and the state now recognizes several possible ways for a person to be a parent under the law.
It’s complicated and courts may have issues interpreting these changes for some time to come.
To get an overview of the new laws, go here.
If I’m in the military, how does that affect filing for divorce?
If you or your spouse are in the armed forces, you can get a divorce in Vermont if you live in the state or you’ve been present in the state for a continuous period of six months.
As an alternative, if you and your spouse are separated by deployment, then you can file in the state where either of you live, as long as both parties agree to it.
While many issues are handled the same as they are in civilian divorces, there are a few notable differences.
For example, child custody and visitation issues can be more complicated due to relocation or deployment orders. Child support is determined the same way as it is for civilian cases. All military personnel are expected to support their children.
Military pay may be withheld. Federal law provides a limit of 50 percent on the amount that is subject to withholding for a person supporting other dependents, such as a spouse or dependent child, and 60 percent for a person who is not.
For example, a military spouse can request a delay in divorce proceedings so that his or her military duties are not impacted. Legal action can be delayed when he or she is on active duty plus 60 days beyond the end of his or her enlistment. The court must appoint an attorney to represent the parent who is a military service member before the judge enters a default judgment.
The USFSPA also governs how military pensions are disbursed and whether or not a former military spouse has full medical and commissary privileges.
For this to happen, the former spouse must have been married at least 20 years; the military spouse had at least 20 years of creditable service, and those two overlapped by at least 20 years.
Looking for more essential information about divorce? Read some of our most popular articles.
- Laws Governing Military Divorces
- How to Find Hidden Assets in a Divorce
- 50 Ways to Prepare for Divorce
- What to Do if You Think Your Husband or Wife is Spying on You