How to File Divorce in Vermont

How to File Divorce in Vermont

In the movies, people (especially women) tend to get over a breakup with a big tub of ice cream.  One of the most popular is the Vermont-based and world-famous Ben & Jerry’s brand. If you are facing a divorce, you may want to get some ice cream ready and also to read up on how to file a divorce in Vermont. 

Living in the state

You or your spouse must live in Vermont for at least six months before filing for divorce, plus one spouse must have lived in the state for at least a year before the divorce can be granted. 

Grounds for divorce

Vermont still has “fault” grounds for divorce on the books, including adultery, a prison sentence, intolerable severity, willful desertion, failure to provide, or permanent incapacity.  Until the 1970s, you had to prove your spouse committed one of these bad acts before you could be granted a divorce.

If a couple just wanted to split up they might have to fake an affair.  Today, there is not much use for a fault divorce. One possible benefit is that there is no waiting period, so some people in Vermont may choose fault grounds to get the divorce completed faster.  

The no-fault ground for divorce in Vermont is that the couple has lived apart for six months and there is no reasonable probability the couple will get back together.  

Neither spouse has to show that the other did anything wrong, but six months can be a long time to wait for a divorce to get finalized.  Many divorces stem from money issues, and a couple that is struggling to make one household work may have trouble with two households. 

Interim domestic order

One way Vermont deals with the six month waiting period is with what it calls an interim domestic order.  

This order is issued when the petition for divorce is filed, and it prohibits each spouse from doing things like spending too much of the couple’s money or moving out of state with the kids. 

Property division

The judge in a Vermont divorce has a lot of leeway to decide how a couple’s assets should be divided.  The judge has to look at issues like the length of the marriage, the age of the spouses, earning capacity of each spouse, and the contributions to the marriage.   

Child support and custody

Vermont law assumes that children do best when both parents are involved in their lives, and for that reason, joint custody is very common.  The courts push parents to come up with an agreed parenting plan.  There are worksheets to help account for all the relevant issues, which include physical living arrangements, contact with each parent, legal responsibilities, and travel.

Child support amounts are provided by a calculator run by the Department for Children and Families.  The calculations are based on an “intact family expenditures,” that tries to estimate how much the family would be spending without the divorce.  Then, the formula adjusts for the amount of time each parent has the child and each parent’s income.

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