Divorce Process: How to File for Divorce in Vermont

Divorce Process: How to File for Divorce in Vermont

Step Description
1 Residency requirements: Either you or your spouse must have lived in Vermont for at least six months before filing for divorce.
2 Grounds for divorce: Vermont recognizes both fault-based and no-fault grounds for divorce. The most common no-fault ground is “irreconcilable differences.”
3 File for divorce: You or your spouse will need to file a Complaint for Divorce with the Vermont family court in the county where either you or your spouse lives. You will need to pay a filing fee, which varies by county.
4 Serve your spouse: The Complaint for Divorce must be served on your spouse. This can be done by a sheriff or a private process server, or by certified mail with return receipt requested.
5 Response: Your spouse has 20 days to respond to the Complaint for Divorce. If your spouse does not respond within this time frame, you can file a Motion for Default Judgment.
6 Discovery: Both parties must exchange financial information and other relevant documents.
7 Mediation: If you and your spouse cannot agree on all issues, you may be required to attend mediation to try to reach an agreement.
8 Final hearing: If you and your spouse are able to reach an agreement, you will need to attend a final hearing to present your agreement to the court. If you cannot agree on all issues, the court will hold a trial and issue a final order.
9 Finalize the divorce: Once the court issues a final order, you must wait 90 days before the divorce is final. After the 90 days have passed, you can file a Motion for a Final Decree of Divorce.


Before filing for divorce in Vermont, there are a few requirements that must be met:

  • At least one spouse must have been a resident of Vermont for at least six months prior to filing
  • The couple must have lived apart without cohabitation or interruption for at least six consecutive months OR
  • The couple agrees that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and files together

Once these requirements are met, the next step is to file a complaint with the family division of the superior court in your county. The complaint will outline your reasons for seeking a divorce and any requests regarding property division, child custody, and support. From there, you will need to serve your spouse with copies of all documents filed with the court and attend any necessary hearings or mediation sessions.

What is divorce?

In Vermont, there are two types of divorce: fault-based and no-fault. Fault-based divorces require one spouse to prove that the other has committed adultery or engaged in other forms of misconduct that justify ending the marriage. No-fault divorces are more common; they simply require one spouse to claim that there has been an irretrievable breakdown in the relationship.

Why do people get divorced?

No matter what the reason for a divorce may be, it can be a difficult and emotional process that requires careful consideration and planning. Seeking support from family members, friends, therapists or attorneys can help make this process easier.

Overview of the divorce process in Vermont

The length of time it takes to complete these steps varies depending on whether there are any contested issues between spouses. A no-fault uncontested divorce without children can take as little as four months while more complex cases involving children or significant assets could take up to two years or longer to resolve.

Residency Requirements for Divorce in Vermont

This means that if neither spouse has lived in Vermont for at least six months, you cannot file for divorce in the state. However, if your situation does not meet this requirement, there may be other options available to you. Consulting with an attorney who specializes in family law can help you understand your options and find the best path forward.

Minimum residency requirements

If there are questions about whether you meet the residency requirements or if determining jurisdiction is an issue, it may be helpful to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law. An experienced attorney can provide guidance on how best to proceed with your case and help ensure that all legal requirements are met throughout the divorce process.

Exceptions to residency requirements

While Vermont requires at least one spouse to have been a resident of the state for six months prior to filing for divorce, there are some exceptions to this rule:

  • If both spouses agree that Vermont has jurisdiction over the divorce and waive any objections regarding residency requirements
  • If one spouse has moved out of state but the other still lives in Vermont and meets the residency requirement
  • If neither spouse is a resident of Vermont but they were married in the state and their marriage broke down while living together in Vermont

In cases where these exceptions do not apply, it may be necessary for one or both spouses to establish residency before filing for divorce. This can involve renting or purchasing property in the state, registering to vote, obtaining a driver’s license or opening bank accounts.

Grounds for Divorce in Vermont

In Vermont, there are two main grounds for divorce: fault-based and no-fault. Here is a closer look at each:

  • Fault-based: In order to file for a fault-based divorce in Vermont, one spouse must prove that the other has committed adultery, engaged in extreme cruelty or abuse, been imprisoned for three years or more, abandoned the marriage for seven years or more, or exhibited intolerable behavior that makes it impossible to continue living together.
  • No-fault: The most common reason cited by people seeking a divorce is irreconcilable differences. This simply means that the couple has grown apart and their relationship can no longer be salvaged.

No-Fault Divorce

Some advantages of a no-fault divorce include:

  • Reduced conflict between spouses
  • Faster and less expensive process than fault-based divorces
  • Allows both parties to move on with their lives more quickly

If you are considering filing for a no-fault divorce in Vermont, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure your rights are protected.

Fault-Based Divorce

If you are filing for a fault-based divorce, it’s important to gather evidence of your spouse’s misconduct. This may include things like text messages, emails, or photographs that show infidelity or abuse.

Keep in mind that pursuing a fault-based divorce can be more complicated and emotionally draining than a no-fault divorce. It can also be more expensive if you need to hire an attorney and pay for additional court fees.

Property Division in Vermont Divorce Cases

It is important for both parties to disclose all assets and debts in order for an accurate determination of equitable distribution to be made. If there are disagreements over how assets should be divided, mediation or negotiation with attorneys can help reach a resolution outside of court.

Equitable distribution

One of the most important aspects of a divorce is dividing property and assets. In Vermont, property division follows the principle of “equitable distribution,” which means that marital assets are divided fairly but not necessarily equally between spouses.

  • Marital assets may include real estate, bank accounts, retirement funds, investments, and personal property such as vehicles or artwork.
  • In addition to dividing marital assets, debts must also be addressed during the divorce process.
  • If the couple cannot agree on how to divide their property and debts, a judge will make these decisions based on factors such as each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, earning capacity and financial needs after the divorce.

Marital property vs. separate property

Vermont is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital property must be divided fairly but not necessarily equally. In order to divide this property, couples must take inventory of all their assets and liabilities together and come up with a plan for dividing them equitably.

  • Common types of marital property include:
    • Homes
    • Cars and other vehicles
    • Bank accounts
    • Rental properties and vacation homes
    • Furniture and household items

  • Common types of separate property include:Inheritances received before or during the marriageProperty owned before the marriage began/li<
  • Pensions earned before the marriage began/li<

Valuation of property

When going through a divorce, one of the most contentious issues can be the division of property. In Vermont, property is divided according to what is considered “equitable,” which means that it is not necessarily split 50/50 but rather in a way that is deemed fair by the court.

Before any division can take place, however, all assets and debts must be identified and valued. This includes:

  • The marital home and other real estate
  • Cars, boats or other vehicles
  • Bank accounts and investments
  • Pensions or retirement accounts
  • Personal property such as furniture or jewelry
  • Credit card debt or outstanding loans

If spouses cannot agree on how to divide their assets and debts themselves, they may need to go to trial where a judge will make decisions about who gets what based on factors like length of marriage, earning capacity of each spouse and contribution of each spouse during the marriage.

Factors that influence property division

When it comes to property division in a divorce, Vermont is an “equitable distribution” state. This means that the court will divide marital assets fairly but not necessarily equally between both spouses. Factors that may influence this decision include:

  • The length of the marriage and each spouse’s contribution to its success
  • Each spouse’s financial situation, including income, debts, and earning potential
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • Whether there are children involved and which parent will have primary custody
  • The value of any property or assets owned by either spouse before the marriage was entered into.

Child Custody and Support in Vermont Divorce Cases

If one parent is awarded primary physical custody, then the other may be required to pay child support. The amount of this payment is determined by state guidelines that take into account both parents’ incomes, number of children, and any special circumstances related to the care or education of those children.

Types of custody

When it comes to child custody, there are two types that may be awarded in Vermont:

  • Legal Custody: This refers to the right and responsibility to make major decisions regarding a child’s welfare, such as education, healthcare and religion. Legal custody can be either sole or joint.
  • Physical Custody: This determines where the child will primarily reside and who is responsible for their daily care. Physical custody can also be either sole or joint.

In most cases, both legal and physical custody are shared between parents unless one parent is deemed unfit by the court due to issues like abuse or neglect.

Factors that influence custody decisions

In Vermont, courts typically prefer joint custody arrangements that allow both parents to have regular contact with their children. However, if one parent is deemed unfit or unable to care for the child, sole custody may be awarded.

Child support guidelines

In Vermont, child support guidelines are based on a formula that takes into account the income of both parents and the number of children involved. The court may deviate from these guidelines if there are extenuating circumstances, such as special needs or extraordinary expenses.

Parents who share custody may also be required to split costs related to their children’s basic needs, such as housing, food, and clothing. Additional expenses like medical bills and extracurricular activities may also be divided between the parents in proportion to their incomes.

Modifications to custody and support orders

If you need to modify an existing custody or support order, it is important to work with an experienced family law attorney who can help guide you through the process. Modifications must be approved by the court and failing to follow proper procedures can result in serious consequences.

Filing for Divorce in Vermont

The complaint that is filed will outline your reasons for seeking a divorce and any requests regarding property division, child custody, and support. It’s important to note that Vermont is an equitable distribution state when it comes to dividing property during a divorce. This means that assets will be divided fairly but not necessarily equally between spouses.

If children are involved in the divorce, both parents will need to come up with a parenting plan outlining their wishes for custody and visitation. The goal of this plan is to ensure that the best interests of the children are met while still allowing both parents to maintain relationships with them.

Overview of the process

The entire process can take several months to over a year depending on how complex the issues involved are and whether there is any disagreement between you and your spouse. Hiring an experienced attorney who specializes in family law can help ensure that you have someone advocating for your best interests every step of the way.

Forms and documents required

In addition to these required documents, you may also need to file additional paperwork depending on whether or not you have children or if there are any disputes regarding property division. It is important to consult with an attorney or legal aid organization to ensure that all necessary paperwork is filed correctly and on time.

Where to file

Here is a list of courthouses in each county:

  • Bennington County: Bennington Superior Court Family Division
  • Caledonia County: Caledonia Superior Court Family Division
  • Chittenden County: Chittenden Superior Court Family Division
  • Essex County: Essex Superior Court Family Division
  • Franklin County: Franklin Superior Court Family Division
  • Grand Isle County: Grand Isle Superior Court Family Division
  • Lamoille County: Lamoille Superior Court Family Division
  • Orange County: Orange Civil & Criminal Courthouse – Chelsea, VT (serves Orange and Washington counties)
  • Rutland County : Rutland Civil Courthouse (serves both civil and family divisions)
  • WashingtonCounty : Washington Civil & Criminal Courthouse – Barre, VT (serves both civil and family divisions)
  • WindhamCounty : Windham Civil & Criminal Courthouse – Brattleboro, VT (serves both civil and family divisions)
  • WindsorCounty : Windsor Civil Courthouse – Woodstock, VT (serves both civil and family divisions)

Serving divorce papers to the spouse

In Vermont, there are several ways to serve divorce papers:

  • Hire a professional process server
  • Have someone over the age of 18 who is not involved in the case hand-deliver them
  • Mail them via certified mail with return receipt requested

After serving your spouse with divorce papers, they will have a certain amount of time (usually around three weeks) to respond. If they do not respond within this timeframe, you can file for default judgment and proceed with finalizing the divorce without their input or agreement.

Responding to divorce papers

After you have been served with divorce papers, it is important to respond in a timely manner. In Vermont, you will typically have 21 days to file an answer or appearance form with the court. This document will indicate whether you agree or disagree with your spouse’s requests regarding property division, child custody, and support.

If you fail to respond within the allotted time frame, the court may enter a default judgment against you, meaning that your spouse’s requests will be granted without any input from you. If there are extenuating circumstances preventing you from filing a response on time, such as illness or military service abroad, speak with an attorney about requesting an extension from the court.

Divorce Mediation in Vermont

Divorce mediation is a process in which divorcing couples work with a neutral third party to negotiate and reach agreements on the terms of their divorce. Mediation can be a less expensive and more cooperative alternative to traditional litigation, but it may not be right for everyone.

In Vermont, mediation is mandatory for all couples seeking divorce. Before going to court, you must participate in at least one session with a mediator who will help you discuss issues related to your divorce such as property division, child custody, and support.

  • If both parties agree on all matters discussed during mediation, they can file an agreement with the court
  • If some issues remain unresolved after mediation, further negotiation or litigation may be necessary

Overview of mediation

Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party helps couples negotiate the terms of their divorce settlement. In Vermont, mediation is mandatory for all contested divorces and can be beneficial even if both parties agree on most issues.

  • The mediator does not make decisions for the couple, but rather facilitates communication between them to help them reach agreements
  • Mediation can save time and money compared to going to trial
  • If an agreement is reached during mediation, it will be submitted to the court for approval

Benefits of mediation

Mediation is an alternative to litigation in which a neutral third party helps the parties work out their differences and reach a mutually acceptable agreement. There are several benefits to using mediation instead of going through traditional divorce proceedings:

  • Cost: Mediation can be less expensive than hiring attorneys and going through court proceedings.
  • Control: The parties have more control over the outcome of the case, as they are actively involved in negotiating the terms of their own settlement.
  • Privacy: Mediation is private, whereas court proceedings are public record.

What to expect during mediation

If mediation is unsuccessful, litigation may be necessary. It’s important to have a skilled attorney who can advocate for your interests throughout this process. Your lawyer can also provide guidance on what to expect during any hearings or trials that may take place as part of your divorce proceedings.

How to find a mediator

If you’re interested in working with a mediator, here are some tips on how to find one:

  • Check with the Vermont Bar Association for a list of mediators who specialize in family law
  • Contact local family courts or community mediation programs for referrals
  • Avoid mediators who have conflicts of interest (such as those who have worked with one spouse before)

Divorce Trial in Vermont

During the trial, each spouse will have the opportunity to present evidence and testimony supporting their case. The judge may also hear from expert witnesses or review documentation related to finances or other aspects of the marriage. After considering all evidence presented, the judge will issue a final order that outlines how assets will be divided, any alimony payments required and arrangements for child custody and support.

When a trial is necessary

A divorce trial can be expensive and time-consuming, but it may also be necessary in order to ensure that both parties’ interests are represented fairly. During a trial, each party will have the opportunity to present evidence and testimony in support of their position. The judge will then make decisions about property division, child custody, support and any other relevant issues based on the evidence presented.

What to expect during a trial

If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement through mediation or negotiation, the court will schedule a trial. During the trial, both parties will present evidence and arguments to support their positions on issues such as property division, alimony, child custody, and support.

Here is what you can expect during a divorce trial:

  • The judge will hear testimony from witnesses called by each party
  • Both parties’ attorneys will have the opportunity to cross-examine these witnesses
  • Each party’s attorney will give an opening statement outlining their client’s position
  • The judge may request additional information or documents from either party if necessary
  • After all evidence has been presented, both sides’ attorneys will give closing arguments summarizing their case
  • The judge will then make a final decision based on the evidence presented in court and Vermont state law.

Role of attorneys during a trial

The role of an attorney can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case. Some couples may choose to work with one lawyer who will represent both parties during a mediated divorce settlement. In other cases where there is significant disagreement between spouses or complicated financial assets involved, each party may need to retain separate attorneys who will fight for their individual interests.

Appealing a trial court decision

If you or your spouse is unhappy with the outcome of a trial court decision in your divorce case, there are options for appeal. Keep in mind that appeals can be complex and time-consuming, so it’s important to consider all factors before pursuing this route.

  • An appeal must generally be filed within 30 days after the entry of the final judgment
  • The appellant (the party seeking an appeal) must file a notice of appeal with the clerk of court and serve copies on all other parties
  • Appeals are heard by the Vermont Supreme Court, which will review transcripts from the lower court as well as any briefs submitted by both sides

If you do decide to pursue an appeal, it may be helpful to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and represent your interests in court.


In conclusion, filing for divorce in Vermont involves meeting residency requirements and filing a complaint with the family division of the superior court. The type of divorce can be fault-based or no-fault based on the grounds cited by one spouse.

Divorce is never an easy decision to make, but it is important to prioritize your well-being and safety above all else. Seeking legal and emotional support during this process can help ensure that you are able to navigate it as smoothly as possible.

Remember that every situation is unique, so it’s crucial to work closely with a trusted attorney who can advise you on how best to proceed with your particular case.

Final thoughts on the Vermont divorce process

It’s also important to keep in mind that every divorce case is unique and requires individual attention. The information provided here serves only as a general guide for filing for divorce in Vermont. It may be helpful to consult with an attorney who can provide personalized advice specific to your situation.

Additional resources for those going through a divorce in Vermont.

In addition to these resources, it’s important to seek emotional support during this challenging time. Friends, family members or a licensed therapist can offer valuable guidance and comfort throughout the divorce process.

FAQ on ‘Divorce Process: How to File for Divorce in Vermont’

Q: What are the grounds for divorce in Vermont?

A: Vermont is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that neither party needs to prove fault or wrongdoing to obtain a divorce. The most common reason cited is “irreconcilable differences.”

Q: How do I file for divorce in Vermont?

A: To file for divorce, you must complete and file a complaint with the court. You will also need to pay a filing fee and provide your spouse with a copy of the complaint.

Q: Do I need an attorney to file for divorce in Vermont?

A: No, you do not need an attorney to file for divorce in Vermont. However, it is recommended that you seek legal advice before proceeding with any legal action.

Q: How long does it take to get a divorce in Vermont?

A: The length of time it takes to finalize a divorce in Vermont varies depending on several factors, including whether both parties agree on all issues and how busy the court system is. On average, it takes between three and six months from the time of filing to receive a final decree of divorce.