Vermont divorce details
Uncontested VS Contested Divorce in Vermont
The two main scenarios of a divorce are:
- Contested divorce
A Contested divorce is associated with litigation, numerous court hearings and interviews, high attorneys’ fees and unpredictable length of the whole process. Each spouse (and, surely, their lawyers) is aimed to win the case and gain as many benefits as possible.
- Uncontested divorce
An Uncontested divorce implies that the spouses can agree about all the terms of their case in advance, with or without the attorney’s assistance. An uncontested divorce is inexpensive and definitely less harmful to the children of the marriage if any, but you should be ready to assess your opportunities fairly. Foremost, an uncontested divorce is good for the spouses who are both agreed to terminate the marriage. Also, it’s assumed that the spouses can negotiate politely and cooperate with the aim to reach a reasonable Marital Settlement Agreement.
Uncontested Divorce in Vermont
Uncontested divorce is popular for less time, less stress, and less money required. If the couple’s desire to divorce is mutual an uncontested divorce is definitely the right way. All the difficult issues can be resolved through the mediation, not to mention the fact that the time frame of a Vermont divorce gives enough time to negotiate and reach an agreement.
Besides, an uncontested divorce allows to represent yourself before the court without a lawyer, and all the online divorce opportunities are also available only for uncontested cases.
Grounds for Divorce in Vermont
Filing for divorce in Vermont, you may choose either fault or no-fault ground.
Fault grounds point out the spouse’s misconduct with following contested divorce, and a no-fault ground is a correct ground for uncontested case.
In Vermont, the fault-based grounds for divorce are:
- a spouse’s incarceration for three years or more (in-state or out-of-state)
- intolerable severity in either spouse (extreme cruelty)
- willful desertion or when either spouse has been absent for seven years and not heard of during that time
- persistent refusal or neglect on the part of one spouse to provide suitable support for the other spouse, without cause, if that spouse has the ability to provide support.
The only no-fault ground is living separate and apart for at least 6 months before filing the petition for divorce.
Vermont Residency Requirements to File for Divorce
To get a divorce under the Vermont jurisdiction you must meet the following residency requirements:
- Either spouse must reside in Vermont within 6 months before filing the divorce.
- One of the spouses must live in Vermont for a 1 year by the time of the final hearing.
- The spouses must be separated for 6 months in order the final hearing could be appointed.
How to File for an Uncontested Divorce in Vermont?
In Vermont, different counties and courts may have their own requirements and some differences in the process of filing for uncontested divorce.
However, there are some basic steps you have to take anyway. Here's the list:
- File the Complaint for divorce (the petition) and other forms with the right court. There are 14 family courts in Vermont, each county has its own. You may file for divorce both in the county where you reside, or where your spouse lives. Your Stipulation (Marital Settlement Agreement) must be already completed.
- Serve your spouse with the divorce paperwork. Then, he/she has 30 days to respond and sign the “Notice of Action” and “Request for Waiver of Service of Summons” forms. These forms mean that your spouse is informed and agreed to uncontested divorce.
- The judge considers the case, approves your Stipulation and then signs the Divorce Order. The final hearing is not mandatory but it may be appointed in some cases, usually, if minor children are involved.
Notice that Vermont doesn’t have any stable schedule of how long to wait for divorce once the papers are filed with the court. These terms may vary greatly depending on the county, the court, and peculiarities of the case.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Vermont
The state of Vermont allows you to represent yourself in the court, so if your case is simple enough you may try to arrange a DIY divorce. A DIY divorce is a suitable option for the couples who have no children and big assets to divide, and none of them asks for the alimony. In such a case your main task is to select correct forms and fill them out properly.
In order to do it, you can use information from the Vermont Judiciary website or seek for a help of online divorce company like ours.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
In Vermont, an average cost of uncontested divorce is difficult to predict due to the variety of the filing fees’ amounts, and also rules & forms in different counties. Filing fees in Vermont are between $75 and $250, what is, actually, the start cost for every uncontested divorce case.
If you hire an attorney for your uncontested case the so-called flat fee will be charged (means the cost per case, not usual hourly attorneys’ fees). Flat fees in Vermont are about $1000.
How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in Vermont?
According to the outlined above Vermont residency requirements for divorce it’s clear that the minimal length of uncontested case is not less than 6 months (if you separated after filing the Complaint). The same 6-months-waiting-period is officially needed if you have minor children, but those may be the same 6 months as for separation.
Another prolonging factor is a “nisi” period. Nisi period is 90 days after the final order is signed before the divorce is final. Fortunately, it isn’t compulsory and can be canceled by the judge according to the both spouses’ wish. The time frame is not so strict for an uncontested divorce and this seems to be another one of its advantages.
Papers & Documents You Need to Get a Divorce in Vermont
Due to the multiplicity of divorce forms according to different cases' specificity, it’s hard to predict what of them you may need for your particular county, court, and situation. If you want to receive the correct set of forms for your unique uncontested divorce please use our service, but here is the basic list of papers that are needed in any divorce case:
- Information Sheet (Form 800).Contains the basic data about both parties.
- Complaint for Divorce/ Legal Separation/ Dissolution (400-00836 Children) or (400-00836 No Children). The main document to start your case, also called the petition for divorce. Contains information about your intention and terms of a divorce.
- Department of Health Record of Divorce or Annulment Form. The form is needed for statistical information.
- Acceptance of Service - Family Division (Form 844). This form must be filled out by the Defendant to confirm he/she was properly served with the Summons and Complaint copies and agrees for an uncontested divorce.
- Final Divorce Stip Property (Form 878). The final stipulation, also known as marital settlement agreement that regulates the issues of Property, debts, and alimony.
How to Serve Your Spouse in Vermont
An important part of any divorce is to notify your spouse of your intention and terms. Officially called a process of service, this procedure should be accomplished according to the state laws. In Vermont, there are 3 ways how to deliver the divorce paperwork to your ex:
- Your spouse may sign and Acceptance of Service form and file it with the court. This method doesn’t demand any third party's participation.
- You can send the papers by the certified or first class mail with the return receipt.
- You can use the Sheriff’s service. The county sheriff is authorized to deliver the divorce paperwork directly to your spouse.
Online Divorce in Vermont
Online divorce in Vermont does not imply filing for divorce online, and you have to attend the court at least once. However, you still can do the main of your uncontested divorce job (namely, to prepare the forms) online.
Use our service, and uncontested divorce in Vermont won’t seem to you a complicated procedure. We’ll take care of all the bureaucratic difficulties and adapt the forms and documents for your specific case. Just for $149, you may receive the prepared paperwork kit within one day. We want to beat stereotypes about hard-to-get divorce in a beautiful state of Vermont.
Rules for Child Support and Visitation in Vermont
Child custody id called “parental rights and responsibilities” in the state of Vermont. There are physical and legal responsibilities.
- Physical responsibilities refer to with whom the child lives, which parent takes care of the child daily. This type of custody may be both sole and joint, but unless the spouses ask the court to award the physical responsibilities to both parents the judge usually gives it to the one parent regardless of gender but according to the numerous factors of the child’s best interests. The other parent gains their visitation rights instead. Parenting time isn't stable under Vermont rules, its schedule also should be decided separately for each case.
- Legal responsibilities mean the decision-making power of parents. This type of custody also may be awarded to one parent or both. The party who has Legal responsibilities has a right to decide some issues that affect the child’s life greatly, namely, choice of education, religious aspects, travels outside the state, healthcare and so on.
As for child support, in Vermont, the court may order the one or even both parents to pay it. Although, usually, the non-custodial parent has to pay the certain sum of money. The custodial parent is assumed to spend the relevant amount on an everyday care anyway, even without a special order.
In Vermont, you can try to estimate an approximate amount of a child support using the State’s Child Support Guidelines, which take into account the number of children, parents’ income, and other factors. The Guidelines determine the acceptable amount, but it must be approved by the court, so eventually, the judge often appoints the higher amount if it’s reasonable.
Rules for Spousal Support in Vermont
Spousal Support also called Spousal Maintenance or just Alimony is the payment from the one former spouse to the other in order to minimize the changes in habitual standard of living for that party who earns less or has less property. The spouses may decide an alimony issues by themselves or ask for the court order. Generally, in Vermont, there are two types of a spousal support:
- Permanent. The long-term periodic payments for the spouse who can’t support him/herself or maintain a habitual standard of living for some reason.
- Rehabilitative. Short-term payments for the spouse who earns less, which are supposed to be spend on professional development in order the receiving spouse could become self-sufficient and earn enough money. Also the rehabilitative alimony may be aimed to smooth the sharp changes of a financial situation accrued by divorce.
The spousal support may be asked by either spouse, but it must be approved by the court according to plenty of factors among which are length of the marriage, both spouses’ contribution to their family welfare, reasonable needs of each spouse, their earning capacity, and many others.
Vermont has the Guidelines for Setting Spousal Maintenance, so that the spouses could learn more about significant factors that affects the terms and amount of a spousal support, and estimate their possibilities.
Division of Property in Vermont
Vermont belongs to the equitable distribution states, the property must be divided between the spouses in a fair way, which not always means equally (namely, more often it’s not).
Unlike most other equitable distribution states where the separate property (something owned by the spouses prior to the marriage) is not subject to division, in Vermont, all the property can be considered as marital in some cases, no matter when the property was acquired and in what name it is held.
There are many factors need to be considered by the court or by spouses themselves (if they want to make a Settlement Agreement) to divide the property justly and reasonably. Some of these factors are: the length of the marriage; each spouse’s health and financial condition; employability of each spouse; their specific needs; contribution to the property’s value and to the family welfare at all (not only material contribution); cases of abuse, misconduct or any other fault of one of the spouses, and so on.
Division of Debt in Vermont
Debts are considered to be the part of a property. Like the property they also can be classified as marital and separate, so they must be divided under the same principles and according to the same affecting factors.
The court takes into account who accumulated the debt and what was the purpose of the particular loan, credit etc.
Divorce Mediation in Vermont
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution, and the couples can resort it to reach an agreement about the most important issues of their divorce case. In many cases, the mediation makes litigation unnecessary, or it can initially be used instead of a court trial.
During the mediation session, the spouses negotiate being led by a qualified mediator. The mediator is a neutral party, who helps to communicate freely and cooperate effectively. Mediation doesn’t imply the competition - the spouses and the mediator have a joint goal to sign the successful Marital Settlement Agreement acceptable to both parties.
The state of Vermont welcomes a divorce mediation. Vermont Superior Court provides its own Family Court Mediation Program, and the mediation can be ordered by the court. In that case, if you can’t afford it the court may pay the part of mediator’s fees.
Generally, divorce mediation is a very popular option now. It’s perfectly combined with the principles of uncontested divorce, though you can try mediation regardless of whether you contest the case or not. Anyway, it helps to keep the smooth relationship with your former spouse, so it’s considered to be less harmful for the children of the marriage.
How to Divorce a Missing Spouse in Vermont
In order to get a divorce having no idea of your spouse’s current location, you need to make some additional efforts.
- Foremost, you should convince the court that the spouse is really missing. You should do your best trying to locate him/her and then, describe all your attempts with the special "Affidavit of Diligent Search" form.
- Once you submitted this form to the court, the judge estimates your efforts and, if all goes well, states that your spouse really can’t be found. It allows you asking the court to order the Service by Publication.
- Service by publication means that the Summons along with some other information about your case is published in a designated newspaper as a notice about your intention to divorce and your interest in any property etc. At the same time, the notice is sent to the last known address of your spouse.
- Service by Publication is considered to be completed within 20 days after the first publication. The divorce can be granted by default, without your spouse’s answer and presence.
Default Divorce in Vermont
Under the Vermont divorce laws, once the Defendant (the non-filing spouse) is served with divorce documents he/she has 20 days to respond with "the Answer" or "the Notice of Appearance". If the Defendant fails to respond the default judgment is entered against him/her, which means that the judge takes into account only the outlined in the petition Plaintiff’s requests and interests. In brief, Default Divorce means the divorce proceeding finalized without the Defendant’s participation, though he/she had all the chances to express their will.
Annulment of the Marriage in Vermont
An annulment ends the married life as a divorce does. However, while a divorce terminates a valid marriage, an annulment proclaims the certain married union initially void and invalid. This procedure cancels the marriage as it never legally existed at all.
Not everyone can file for an annulment. Unlike the divorce, starting this motion can’t depend on your wishes only. To annul the marriage in Vermont the couple must meet one of these grounds:
- Underage marriage (under 16).
- Unsound mind (insanity/other disability).
- Force (a consent to marriage obtained by duress or threat).
- Fraud (a consent to marriage obtained by the lie or concealment of important facts)
Legal Separation in Vermont
Legal Separation is very similar to divorce proceedings. In Vermont, it is granted on the same grounds and under the same filing rules as a divorce is. The spouses divide the property and liabilities, decide children-related issues and so on. The main difference is that after a Legal Separation the couple remains legally married, the parties are not allowed to remarry until they officially divorced. Also, the Legal Separation in Vermont doesn’t have some time limits, so it doesn’t turn into the divorce automatically if at least one party is still a resident of the state.
Legal Separation can be chosen as a temporary hiatus or in order to keep some of the marriage benefits referred to taxes or insurance.
Same-Sex Divorce in Vermont
Same-sex marriages became legal in Vermont since 2009, which made Vermont the fifth US state recognizing the same-sex marriage. But actually, Vermont has an even longer history of a legislative support of tolerance and equality.
In 1992 sexual orientation was added to the state anti-discrimination statute, since 1995 the same-sex couples are allowed to adopt, and in 2000 Vermont was the first US state to provide Civil Unions for LGBT couples.
Nowadays, the family laws and rules are absolutely the same for same-sex and straight couples. The legal marriage can be ended by divorce, and there is no point and possibility to join in civil union anymore. However, plenty of valid civil unions entered before 2009 are still recognized in the state. In case of a breakup, the civil unions can be officially terminated with the Dissolution of a Civil Union procedure.
Military Divorce in Vermont
Military divorce in Vermont follows nearly the same rules as in the rest of the US states, because all the US military members are protected by the same federal laws - the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). These laws affect the divorce proceeding in such aspects:
- Along with the regular Residency Requirements for divorce, you may file for divorce in Vermont if you or your spouse is stationed there as a military service member.
- All the military spouses are protected against the default judgment by the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act. The divorce proceeding may be postponed for the whole period of the military spouse’s active duty and for another 60 days after that.
- The military pension is not divided as a marital property unless the spouses were married more than 10 years while the spouse has been active duty military.
- It's not allowed to appoint an amount of a child support and a spousal maintenance higher than 60% of a military spouse’s pays.
How to Divorce a Spouse in Jail in Vermont
Speaking of uncontested divorce, there are no special rules or difficulties to divorce an inmate spouse in Vermont.
You must serve your spouse with a divorce paperwork as in any usual divorce case, but you may clarify if the papers should be handed to your spouse by the jail authorities. Then, the schedule is typical, you should give your spouse a time to respond and so on. As Vermont rarely requires any court hearing for an uncontested divorce, there is no problem that your spouse can’t physically participate in the case. Also, you can agree on default divorce in advance, in order not to cooperate settling your marital agreement, if negotiation is not pertinent for you.
Vermont Divorce Filing Fee
When you file for divorce in your county’s Family Court once the forms are submitted to the Clerk of the Courts you must pay a divorce filing fee. This initial pay for any divorce case is charged to cover the cost of court services.
In Vermont, a filing fee isn’t stable for all the state, the cost varies greatly according to the county between $75 and $250.
Can a Filing Fee Be Waived?
The answer is yes. A filing fee can be waived but only for indigent petitioners.
The petitioner should fill out the "Application to Waive Filing Fees and Costs" form, providing the court with an evidence of the financial hardship.
How We Can Help
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Make sure that DIY divorce with our help is not as complicated as it seems. Please contact us to learn more.
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