Please review the common questions and answers below. If you have any further questions or would like to contact us click here.
- What are the pre-requisites for obtaining a divorce in Vermont?
Vermont is a no-fault divorce state. You can obtain a divorce for any reason, as long as you can establish that you and your spouse have been living separate and apart for six consecutive months and there is no reasonable likelihood your marriage will resume.
“Separate and apart” means that “the elements of the marriage have been abandoned.” It does not necessarily mean that you and your spouse are no longer living in the same household or under the same roof. You may file for divorce even if your spouse has not moved out, as long as you are no longer living as a married couple.
You must live in Vermont for at least six months before filing a divorce and at least one year before obtaining a divorce. While Vermont is a no-fault state, you can also file for divorce on fault grounds, such and adultery, imprisonment, intolerable severity, desertion, neglect or insanity.
- Does it make sense to file for a legal separation?
There is little difference between legal separation and divorce, except that you may not remarry if you are legally separated. There may be some tax advantages, or other benefits, to a legal separation that would be lost through divorce. However, legal separation in lieu of divorce is extremely rare.
- What are the most common issues in divorce?
In every divorce, the parties must determine, or the court must decide, how to divide the marital estate between spouses and whether to award one of the parties support (sometimes called alimony or maintenance). If the parties have minor children, issues such as child custody (known as parental rights and responsibilities), parent-child contact and child support must be addressed.
- What is the process for filing and actually obtaining a divorce?
Divorces are filed in the family division of the Vermont Superior Court. One party files a complaint and serves the other party with a copy of the complaint. From there, the parties must determine initial issues such as possession of the marital residence, temporary custody, child contact, temporary alimony and child support. This often takes place in court at a case manager’s conference by agreement of the parties. If the parties do not agree, it takes place by court order following an initial hearing.
- What happens after the case manager’s conference or initial hearing?
At this stage, the parties usually engage in discovery. Through this process, the parties gather information about each other concerning their income, assets and liabilities. This helps determine how to value and divide the marital estate and how much, if any, alimony should be awarded. Once discovery is complete, the parties are ready to either negotiate settlement or prepare for trial.