Grounds for Divorce Under Vermont Divorce Laws
The State of Vermont is a no-fault state. The only way you can get a divorce is if the marriage is broken beyond repair. To request a divorce, you must first live apart from your spouse for six consecutive months, and then prove to the court that your marriage is unfixable. As long as neither spouse contests, the court may grant you your divorce.
Alas, the state of Vermont has a waiting period of three months from the time you file for divorce until the time you are granted one.
If there are children involved, the court will not hear your case until a minimum of six months have passed from the date the divorce was filed or served to the other party.
You (or your spouse) must be a resident of the state of Vermont for a minimum of six months before filing. However, before you can be granted a divorce, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for one year before the date of the final hearing.
Temporary absence from the state because of illness or employment outside the state, being in service as a member of the armed forces of the United States, or other legitimate reasons are fine, as long as the person has remained a resident of Vermont.
Where to File – Venue
Vermont divorce laws keep things simple, so you can file in either the county where you or your spouse resides.
In Vermont, getting married means that your property and her property become “our property.” Thus, when you get divorced, the court will consider all property – regardless of when, how, or why it was acquired, as shared property, and will divide and assign said items as it deems fair.
Title to the property, whether in the names of the husband, the wife, both parties, or a nominee, shall be immaterial, except where equitable distribution can be made without disturbing separate property.
In making a property settlement, the court may consider all relevant factors including, but not limited to:
- The length of the marriage
- The age and health of the parties
- The occupation, source, and amount of income of each of the parties
- Vocational skills and employability
- The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other
- The value of all property interests, liabilities, and needs of each party
- Whether the property settlement is in lieu of or in addition to maintenance
- The opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income
- The desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live there for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of the children
- The party through whom the property was acquired
- The contribution of each spouse in the acquisition, preservation, and depreciation or appreciation in value of the respective estates, including the non-monetary contribution of a spouse as a homemaker
- The respective merits of the parties
Vermont divorce laws allow for either spouse to make maintenance payments to the other spouse. These payments may be rehabilitative (potentially short term or however long it takes for the other spouse to no longer need the payments) or permanent in nature.
If the court finds that one spouse is unable to support him or herself, is unable to provide for his or her reasonable needs, or is the custodial parent of a child, the court will order that alimony payments be made to that person. The amount term length of these payments will be decided only after considering all relevant factors including, but not limited to:
- The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance
- The property apportioned to the party
- The party’s ability to meet his or her needs independently
- The extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party contains a sum for that party as a custodian
- The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The duration of the marriage
- The age and the physical and emotional condition of each spouse
- The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her reasonable needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance
- Inflation with relation to the cost of living
In Vermont, like in most states, it’s up to the court to decide what is best for our children (unless you and your spouse can come to a mutual agreement on this and other matters). The court may decide to allow both parents to share parental rights and responsibilities, or, in some cases, the court may give all parental rights and responsibilities to one parent.
In making this decision, the court shall be guided by the best interests of the child, and shall consider at least the following factors:
- The relationship of the child with each parent and the ability and disposition of each parent to provide the child with love, affection and guidance
- The ability and disposition of each parent to assure that the child receives adequate food, clothing, medical care, other material needs and a safe environment
- The ability and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s present and future developmental needs
- The quality of the child’s adjustment to the child’s present housing, school and community and the potential effect of any change
- The ability and disposition of each parent to foster a positive relationship and frequent and continuing contact with the other parent, including physical contact, except where contact will result in harm to the child or to a parent
- The quality of the child’s relationship with the primary care provider, if appropriate given the child’s age and development
- The relationship of the child with any other person who may significantly affect the child
- The ability and disposition of the parents to communicate, cooperate with each other, and make joint decisions concerning the children where parental rights and responsibilities are to be shared or divided
In addition, the court shall consider evidence of abuse, and the impact of that abuse (where applicable) on the child and on the relationship between the child and the abusing parent.
The court shall not apply a preference for one parent over the other because of the parent’s gender or the child’s gender, or the financial resources of the parent.
An agreement between the parties which is a complete agreement on parental rights and responsibilities shall include provisions that address at least the following:
- Physical living arrangements
- Parent child contact
- Education of the minor child
- Medical, dental and health care
- Travel arrangements
- Procedures for communicating about the child’s welfare
- Procedures for resolving disputes if parental rights and responsibilities are to be shared or divided. Such procedures may include but shall not be limited to mediation and binding arbitration
If the court finds that an agreement between the parents is not in the best interests of the child or if the court finds that an agreement was not reached voluntarily the court shall refuse to approve the agreement.
The State of Vermont has established guidelines for child support which reflect the percent of combined available income that parents living in the same household in Vermont ordinarily spend on their children. The amounts of child support determined under the guideline shall be presumed to be the total support obligation of the parents.
Except in situations where there is shared or split physical custody, the total child support obligation shall be divided between the parents in proportion to their respective available incomes. The noncustodial parent shall be ordered to pay his or her share of the total support obligation to the custodial parent. The custodial parent will spend his or her share directly on the child.
The total support obligation shall be presumed to be the amount of child support needed. Upon request of a party, the court shall consider the following factors in respect to both parents.
If, after consideration of these factors, the court finds that application of the guidelines is unfair to the child or to any of the parties, the court may adjust the amount of child support:
- The financial resources of the child
- The financial resources of the custodial parent
- The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marital relationship not been discontinued
- The physical and emotional condition of the child
- The educational needs of the child
- The financial resources and needs of the noncustodial parent
- The costs of meeting the educational needs of either parent, if the costs are incurred for the purpose of increasing the earning capacity of the parent
- Extraordinary travel and other travel-related expenses incurred in exercising the right to parent-child contact
- Any other factors the court finds relevant
If the parties agree, the court may include in the child support order an additional amount designated for the purpose of providing for post-secondary education.
A woman may change her name back to her maiden name or the name of a former husband, except when good cause is shown to disallow it. The court may also change the names of the minor children of divorced parents when requested.