If you want to dissolve your marriage in Vermont, you’re likely to have some questions regarding this process. The thing is, divorce law varies from state to state, significantly impacting divorce proceedings across the country.
This article will provide comprehensive information about the divorce process in Vermont and walk you through all the necessary steps to resolve your case. In turn, by understanding local divorce laws and requirements, you can ensure your rights are protected and the marriage termination procedure goes as smoothly as possible.
Check Residency Requirements
Before applying for a divorce in Vermont, it is essential to check whether you meet local residency requirements. Currently, these are as follows:
- At least one of the partners must have been a legal resident of Vermont for a minimum of six months before the divorce case is started.
- At least one of the partners must have been a legal resident of Vermont for a minimum of one year before the Decree of Divorce is entered.
In other words, you can file your initial divorce paperwork after six months of living in the state, but you will have to reside in Vermont for at least one year before the final divorce hearing can be held. If you fail to meet at least one of the requirements listed above, your case will be dismissed.
Decide on the Type of Divorce
Unlike many other states, Vermont accepts both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce.
Most divorcing spouses prefer a no-fault divorce, as it is way quicker, easier, and less expensive than a fault-based one. In this case, there is no need to prove any fault on the other spouse’s part. Instead, it is enough to state that you have lived separately for at least six months and that there is no chance of reconciliation.
When it comes to fault-based grounds for divorce in Vermont, they include:
- incarceration for a minimum of three years
- extreme cruelty
- willful desertion
- persistent refusal or neglect
- incurable insanity
Usually, fault-based divorce adds complexity to the process because it requires proof. So most couples avoid it. However, if you need to highlight your former spouse’s shortcomings during the proceedings, you can apply for this type of divorce.
Prepare Divorce Papers
To start the marriage dissolution process in Vermont, the filing spouse should prepare a list of divorce forms. Even though required divorce documents may differ from case to case and from county to county, most divorcing couples should submit:
- Cover Sheet
- Summons, Complaint for Divorce, and Notice of Appearance
- Confidential Information Sheet
- Financial Income Affidavit
- Financial Affidavit of Property and Assets
- Health Department Vermont Record of Divorce or Annulment
People with children will also be required to submit additional documents, such as:
- Affidavit of Child Custody
- Child Support Order form, and
- Agreement on Parental Rights and Responsibilities, Parent-Child Contact, and Provisions Relating to Children
In Vermont, you can complete divorce paperwork on your own or with the help of an attorney. People hiring experienced lawyers have the opportunity to get their divorce forms done in 1-2 weeks. The typical lawyer in Vermont charges between $150-250 per hour, which means that the total cost of the whole documents preparation process can reach several thousand dollars.
People seeking a less expensive and time-consuming way of preparing divorce papers can use services provided by online divorce companies. These platforms often charge around $200-500 for helping select and fill out a full packet of up-to-date divorce documents, serving this task within two business days.
But keep in mind that online divorce companies can only help if you apply for an uncontested divorce. If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse fail to reach a mutual agreement on divorce-related issues, you will have to hire an attorney to ensure a fair outcome from your situation.
File Divorce Documents with the Court
Once you have prepared the forms necessary for getting a divorce in Vermont, file them in your county or the county in which your spouse resides. In addition, you will have to pay a mandatory filing fee during this stage of the divorce process. Presently, that fee is $90 with a stipulation when at least one of the partners is a legal resident of the state. The fee is $180 with a stipulation if neither party is a resident. Finally, people applying for a contested divorce will have to pay $295 for filing fees.
Serve Your Spouse
After filing for divorce, you will be required to notify your partner that legal action has been taken against them. In Vermont, this task can be served in one of the following ways:
- If you and your partner are on good terms, you can personally deliver the divorce forms to them. Your spouse will have to sign a copy of the Acceptance of Service in this case.
- You can deliver divorce forms with the help of the Sheriff for an additional fee.
- You can deliver divorce documents via certified mail with a return receipt requested.
- You can deliver divorce papers by regular mail along with the Acceptance of Service form.
- If you can’t identify the location of your spouse, you can serve them by publication in the newspaper.
Finalize the Divorce
Spouses who agree on all divorce terms have to attend a final uncontested hearing where the court will most likely sign a final order. Then, they will be required to go through a 90-day waiting period, also known as a nisi period, before the divorce can be considered final.
If either spouse contests any divorce terms, the court will schedule a final contested hearing. During this session, the judge will listen to both sides and decide on any resolved items.
Considering that the court reviews lots of information to meet the needs of all parties, a contested hearing can be complicated and time-consuming. When all disputes are resolved, the judge will sign a final order, confirming that divorce will be finalized in 90 days.
Divorce in Vermont can be pretty simple if the spouses cooperate and file for an uncontested divorce stating no-fault reasons. Moreover, they can use online divorce platforms to prepare all the necessary documents on their own at an affordable price.