Vermont Divorce Laws

Divorce in Vermont

In Vermont, couples can file for divorce or legal separation based on one of several grounds. For a no-fault divorce, spouses must have lived apart by mutual agreement for six months, or a year if both parties are not in agreement. Alternatively, the legislature has established fault-based grounds such as separation where the parties have been apart for at least six consecutive months; adultery; confinement of either party in prison for three years or more; intolerable severity; willful desertion; persistent refusal or neglect without cause; and incurable insanity.

Vermont divorceLegal separation requires Court action with a resolution of child custody and support, spousal maintenance, and division of assets. The main distinction between legal separation and divorce is that a couple remains married in a former situation, which may be chosen for religious beliefs, health insurance purposes, or tax benefits.

Annulment differs from divorce and legal separation in that it legally declares the marriage never existed due to specific grounds such as underage, unsound mind, physical incapacity, force, fraud, incest, or bigamy. In some cases, certain annulment conditions will not be upheld, such as if a person was insane at the time of marriage but later recovered sanity or if an underage spouse freely continued living with the other spouse after reaching age 18. Additionally, an annulment cannot be claimed if more than two years have passed since the date of marriage for the physical incapacity condition.

Vermont Divorce Requirements

Prior to filing for divorce individuals must first meet the Vermont state requirements. In order to file for divorce in Vermont an individual must reside within the state for a minimum of six months prior to filing. Either individual may reside in the state, as both individuals’ presence is not necessary until the hearing.

Vermont also stipulates that the individual filing must have resided in the state for a minimum of one year at the date of the hearing or the divorce will not be granted. These time requirements will not be affected if an individual must leave the state for military duty, illness treatment, employment, or any other legitimate cause.

The county court systems handle all divorce cases, thus if the individuals filing live in separate Vermont counties, either individual may file for divorce to either county.

Filing with the Court in Vermont

You must file your Vermont divorce papers in the court located in the County where you presently reside. We will provide the court information in the documents that we send to you, but some of the courts in Vermont are listed below:

  • Washington County Family Court:
    255 North Main Street, Suite 3 + Barre VT 05641 Phone: (802) 479-4205
  • Chittenden County Family Court:
    32 Cherry Street, Suite 200, Burlington, VT 05401 Phone: (802) 651-1709
  • Rutland County Family Court:
    9 Merchants Row, Rutland, VT 05701 Phone: (802) 786-5856
  • Windham County Family Court:
    30 Putney Road, Brattleboro, VT 05301 Phone: (802) 257-2830
  • Caledonia County Family Court:
    1126 Main St, Suite 1, St. Johnsbury, VT 05819 Phone: (802) 748-6600
  • Franklin County Family Court:
    36 Lake Street, St. Albans, VT 05478 Phone: (802) 524-7997

If your County court is not listed, the information for your court will be included in the divorce papers we send you.

Grounds for Divorce

When petitioning for divorce the individuals must state the reasoning for wanting the divorce. This reasoning is called the grounds for divorce. The grounds for divorce are different in each state, whereas some grounds may be legal in one state but may not be in Vermont. Two individuals may decide upon which grounds they are filing and present them in petitioning, or one individual may petition on particular grounds but will then need to prove them before the court.

Vermont grounds for divorce are divided into two categories: No-Fault grounds and Fault grounds. No-fault grounds state that no particular individual is responsible for the divorce. No-Fault grounds are based on the terms that the individuals have not lived together for six months in a row, prior to filing, and reconciliation is not possible. Martial counseling often precedes divorce filing in these circumstances.

Fault grounds state that one individual is responsible for the divorce. These grounds include committing adultery of either individual; committing intolerable severity towards either individual; conviction for a criminal offense where one individual is incarcerated for at least three years; an extended absence on a willful basis for no less than seven years without contact; incurable insanity of either individual, often with psychological hospitalization; and the refusal to provide, physically or emotionally, for the other individual when the means to do so is fully possible leading to neglect.

Under the divorce grounds for confinement, the individual under confinement must currently be incarcerated at the time of the divorce filing.

Divorce Documents

When individuals file for divorce many different kinds of paperwork are necessary. These forms can be as many as twenty and often as few as one dozen. The number of documents required depends on the divorce case, the length of the marriage, any subsequent children, present property, and complaint.

Divorce documents in Vermont usually include a Property and Debt Information Sheet, a Court Information Sheet, a Marital Settlement Agreement sheet, a Case Cover Sheet, a Financial Affidavit sheet, a Complaint for Divorce and Decree of Divorce form, and a Property and Debt Information Sheet.

All of these forms will be filed to the county clerk’s office where they will be held, ordered, and maintained until the court hearing.


Is Vermont a 50/50 divorce state?

No, Vermont is an equitable distribution state. This means that the court recognizes both parties’ contributions to their marriage and divides the marital assets and debts in a manner that is fair but not necessarily equal.

What are the rules for divorce in Vermont?

To be granted a divorce in Vermont, you must have been living apart for at least six months or prove that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The filing party must also establish residency in the state.

Is Vermont an alimony state?

Yes, Vermont does recognize the award of alimony. It is usually determined by taking into account factors such as income, duration of the marriage, and contributions made to the household.

What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce in Vermont?

Legal separations and divorces share many of the same principles, but there are some key differences. A legal separation allows couples to keep their marital status without dissolving the marriage itself. On the other hand, a divorce fully terminates the marriage and grants each spouse independent standing in the eyes of the law.

How long do you have to be married to get alimony in Vermont?

There is no set period of time required to qualify for alimony; instead, it is determined on a case-by-case basis. The court considers various factors such as length of marriage, standard of living during the marriage, contributions to the household, etc.

Who gets the house in a divorce in VT?

The house may be awarded to one or both spouses depending on their individual circumstances. Factors such as who owns the property, whether or not there are any other assets involved, and any children of the couple are usually taken into account when determining who gets the house.

How is alimony determined in Vermont?

Alimony is determined on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration factors such as income, contributions to the marriage, standard of living during the marriage, etc. The court will also consider other relevant documents such as tax returns and business records.

What is the alimony reform in Vermont?

As of July 1st, 2018 Vermont has implemented alimony reforms that aim to use objective guidelines in setting awards and defining payment terms. Reforms include changes to how alimony will be calculated, with an emphasis on offering more predictability in support payments over time.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.