Uncontested Divorce in Vermont
Vermont residents can apply for a contested or uncontested divorce.
- Spouses who can not agree on divorce terms relating to property division, child custody (if minor children), alimony, and other marriage-related matters qualify for a contested divorce. The court schedules several hearings to decide on each issue and make a final judgment. The divorce process can last an average of 6 - 12 months.
- Spouses with no ongoing disputes may file for an amicable divorce. An uncontested divorce allows spouses to officially end the relationship as quickly as possible and reduce dissolution costs. If the parties involved have minor disagreements, they can still apply for an amicable divorce using mediation. Spouses can receive a final court decision 91 days after filing for an uncontested divorce in Vermont.
Many couples prefer an uncontested divorce, as spouses are not required to provide proof of the other spouse’s wrongdoing, which frees them from answering confusing and embarrassing questions.
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Presently, Vermont courts may require the following forms:
- Information Sheet (Form 800)
- Summons and Complaint (Form 836)
- Acceptance of Service (Form 844)
- Answer and Notice of Appearance (Form 837)
- Final Stipulation (property, debts, and spousal support) (Form 878)
- Motion to Waive Final Hearing (Form 841)
- Statement of Confidential Information (Form 849)
- Financial affidavit: Income and expenses (Form 813A)
- Financial affidavit: Property and assets (Form 813B)
- Child Support Order (Form 802)
Steps for Filing a Divorce in Vermont
To be eligible to file for dissolution of marriage in Vermont, spouses should follow several significant steps.
In Vermont, divorcing partners must meet residency requirements to file for a divorce. If the local court finds that the spouses are not eligible for divorce in the state, their application will be denied.
Spouses can file for divorce in Vermont if at least one of the spouses has lived in the state for six or more months before filing with the court. However, the court will not grant a divorce until one of the parties has lived in the state for one full year. An exception is if the petitioner or respondent was temporarily absent in the state (retaining residence) due to illness, service as a US military member, employment, or other legitimate reason.
Grounds for divorce in Vermont divide into two main categories: fault and no-fault divorce. The circumstances of the divorce determine what grounds are available to the partners. However, spouses can choose whether they want to state the reason for the dissolution of the marriage.
The fault-based grounds for divorce in Vermont include:
- intolerable severity toward the other spouse;
- conviction of a crime resulting in a sentence for three years or more
- willful desertion or spouse has been absent for seven years;
- permanent incapacity due to a mental condition or psychiatric disability; and
- persistent neglect of providing proper support for the other spouse without cause.
Filing for divorce without fault, the petitioner does not need to point out and prove the other spouse’s misconduct. Under Vermont law, partners must be separated for at least six months before filing. The judge must also establish that the couple's reconciliation is impossible either now or in the future.
To file for a divorce, the petitioner should file the Vermont divorce forms with the county court where one of the spouses resides.
Divorce Papers in Vermont
The list of required paperwork depends on the personal circumstances of the case and the county where the spouses file for divorce. However, divorcing couples should provide the following primary documents to initiate a divorce in the state:
- Complaint for Divorce
- Spouse’s Personal Information
- Health Insurance Notice
- Divorce Agreement
The petitioner should also make two copies of each document. Then, after verification by the court clerk, copies are distributed between the spouses, and the originals are submitted to the court for further consideration of the case.
When filing documents with the court, the petitioner must pay filing fees. In Vermont, the charge for filing documents with a stipulation is $90. However, when filing for a contested divorce, costs can increase up to $295.
If the petitioner has a low income and can not pay the fee, they may file for a payment waiver. To do this, they need to complete and submit the Application to Waive Filing Fees and Service Costs form.
After submitting the documents to the court, there is a mandatory waiting period. It is called “a nisi period” in Vermont and lasts three months. However, in exceptional cases, the judge may shorten or cancel the waiting period if both spouses agree to the divorce terms.
However, spouses should also consider that the duration of a divorce may increase due to the case circumstances (the presence of minor children, ongoing disputes regarding child care, marital assets, and other marriage-related issues) and the court workload.
Vermont law requires the filing spouse to announce their intention to divorce and serve the documents to the second spouse to have an opportunity to respond.
There are several acceptable serving methods:
- in person;
- by registered mail;
- by sheriff’s service
In an uncontested divorce, the spouses can receive a final court decree within three months. However, if the couple has children, the divorce process can take six months.
Getting a Divorce With Children
In Vermont, spouses with minor children must determine child custody and support. When making a decision, the court puts the safety and well-being of children first.
In Vermont, parents can get sole or joint custody. Physical custody entitles both or one parent to have their child live with them or stay overnight. The parent with physical custody takes care of all the child’s daily needs.
Legal custody gives both or one parent the right to make life-changing decisions for the child. For example, decisions related to health, choosing a school, school trips, etc.
Courts prefer to grant joint legal and physical responsibility unless it is in the children’s best interests not to do so.
If the spouses agree on child guardianship on their own, they need to draft a parenting plan containing each parent’s rights and responsibilities. If the parties involved disagree, the court decides based on the information received and the state’s laws.
The final court decision depends on a variety of factors, including:
- the financial situation of each parent;
- the age of the child;
- child’s preferences;
- the child’s personal relationships with other family members;
- the desire of each parent;
- adjusting the child to home, school, and society; and
- mental and physical health of both parents.
In Vermont, either parent can request child support. Typically, the court orders child support payments from the parent who spends less than 50% of the parental time with the child.
The parent who pays child support is called the “non-custodial parent,” and the one who receives it is called the “custodial parent.”
The amount of child support depends on the number of children, the conditions of parental care, and the parent’s income. Spouses can calculate their child support rate using Vermont’s child support calculator.
However, it is worth noting that the court reserves the right to adjust the amount if the judge considers the calculation provided unfair to the child.
Filing for Divorce in Vermont Without a Lawyer
In contested cases, it is helpful for spouses to hire lawyers to represent their interests in the courtroom. However, if the couple seeks an uncontested divorce, they can settle all matters without an attorney.
If spouses have minor divorce-related disagreements, they may still be eligible for an amicable divorce. For this, partners should contact a neutral third party.
Mediators are qualified professionals, often former judges and lawyers, who help spouses compromise. As soon as the spouses reach an arrangement, they sign the Settlement Agreement and submit it to the court.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Vermont
- When filing for an uncontested divorce in Vermont, spouses can refuse an attorney and do a do-it-yourself divorce. It is the most economical and convenient way to end the marriage.
- In a DIY divorce, the spouses are fully responsible for the dissolution of the marriage and representing themselves in court. Faced with paperwork for the first time, the petitioner may make mistakes, leading to additional costs.
- Online services such as DivorceOnline can help make the divorce filing process quick and smooth. The system has an effortless and straightforward interface that allows spouses to select and fill out the necessary paperwork in a matter of days. Moreover, the platform provides a step-by-step guide for filing without a lawyer.
Frequently Asked Questions:
In Vermont, the length of a divorce depends on the circumstances of the case. For example, the court usually grants a divorce after six months if a couple has children. If the spouses have no kids and disagreements, the court may decide on divorce after the expiration of the nisi period, provided that all conditions for obtaining a divorce are met. Contested cases take longer to process.
The price of a divorce depends on the nature of the case. Spouses who file for an uncontested divorce pay at least $90 for filing fees. In addition, spouses should be prepared to pay for parenting courses (if needed), legal fees, and online divorce services.
If the spouses have financial difficulty and can not pay the filing fee, the petitioner has the right to file a payment waiver. To do this, they need to fill out the Application to Waive Filing Fees and Service Costs Form. The county court will review the application and decide based on the provided information.
The list of forms depends on whether the couple has minor children or not. However, an initial list of documents that spouses need includes:
- Information sheet;
- Summons and Complaints;
- Acceptance of Service;
- Answer and Notice of Appearance;
- Final Stipulation (property, debts, and spousal support);
- Motion to Waive Final Hearing;
- Statement of Confidential Information;
- Financial affidavit: Property and assets; and
- Financial affidavit: Income and expenses
Before filing, spouses should contact the county clerk and double-check that they have the required forms.