Vermont Divorce & Separation
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Thousands receive legal separations or divorces across the U.S. every year, but before making the decision to pursue separation or divorce, you should know that the laws differ from state to state, and knowing the specific law in Vermont can make a big difference. What are the requirements for getting a divorce in Vermont? Are there any simplified or accelerated procedures available in Vermont? Is mediation a requirement before you can get a divorce in Vermont? What is the law on Vermont annulments? Find the answers to your Vermont divorce questions here.
Vermont Legal Separation:
Legal separations are allowed in Vermont. As long as at least one party is a Vermont resident, and both parties agree to the separation, the court will not automatically direct the pleadings toward divorce. The court will, however, issue orders with regard to the care and custody of minor children that may be involved, and any judgments made are always open to revision at the court’s discretion, for instance if the circumstances of one of the parents changes, and thus the needs of the children change as a result.
Grounds for Divorce/Fault – No Fault:
Vermont has both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. For no-fault divorces, a six-month period must have elapsed, during which the spouses lived separate and apart, and the court must determine that there is no reasonable probability that marital relations will resume. Filing for divorce based on fault grounds, on the other hand, must include a significantly more specific reason, for instance: adultery, sentencing and confinement for three years or more (in some cases, the confinement requirement is life), a party’s “intolerable severity” of conduct, willful desertion for seven years or more, one party’s failure to provide suitable maintenance for the other party despite the physical ability to do so, or incurable insanity.
Residency/Where to File for Divorce:
To file for divorce, either party must have resided in the state for at least six months before filing, but no final decree of divorce will be issued before the plaintiff and/or defendant have resided in the state for at least one year. Temporary absences due to employment or illness do not affect the residency requirement. Divorces must be filed in the county in which one or both parties reside.
Availability of Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures:
There are no major procedures in Vermont that allow for simplified or special divorces. The one exception to this is the situation of no-fault divorces filed with 1) a petition signed by both parties, 2) a notarized separation agreement or marital settlement agreement, and 3) an affidavit swearing to the irretrievability of the marriage. These divorce actions are heard by the judge with no summons requirement and with a statutory eye toward a speedy resolution. Note also that some of the required documentation, particularly the separation agreement, is most prudently handled via mediation sessions out of court, and usually with attorney representation to ensure full legal accuracy. See the “Divorce Mediation” section below for more information.
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Divorce Mediation in Vermont:
Vermont courts have the authority to order alternative dispute resolution when they see fit. A mediation session may be called to resolve matters that are still contested but which the court deems would ultimately be resolved with less acrimony and more efficiently through mediation rather than the stress and cost of litigation. This might be especially true when children are involved, and the court wishes to spare their feelings and emotions by working out an out-of-court agreement.
An annulment is a court declaration that your marriage is legally invalid. In other words, rather than ending a marriage via divorce, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage was never valid in the first place. Reasons for the court’s granting an annulment might include: fraud, duress, one party’s minor status at the time of marriage, or consanguinity.
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