Ending a marriage is stressful and trying. This page provides information about getting a divorce in Vermont, as well as other options including legal separation, annulment, and dissolution of a civil union.
Consider talking to an attorney about your situation. Talking to an attorney is especially important if:
- There are complex property issues
- Either party has a pension or retirement account
- You and your spouse disagree about your children
- There is a history of domestic abuse
- You or your spouse do not live in Vermont
See the Finding Legal Help web page for information about free and low cost ways to get the help of a lawyer.
- The VTLawHelp.org website provides a Divorce Roadmap.
- If domestic violence is a concern, call 1-800-228-7395 or visit www.vtnetwork.org for help.
- The Office of Child Support helps with issues related to child support.
- Watch the video A guide to the legal process of a Vermont divorce (27 minutes).
- Visit the Families Change website for information about helping kids, teens, and parents deal with a family breakup.
Not finding what you're looking for? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This section walks you through the divorce process from start to finish. The purpose is to give you a general overview. You can click on links to more in-depth information on particular topics throughout this section. Special considerations may apply if you or your spouse are serving in the military, have filed a relief from abuse complaint, or have agreed on all issues before either of you files a divorce complaint (this is called a stipulated divorce).
You and your spouse may agree on all of the issues in your divorce or civil union dissolution before you ever go to court. If that happens, and you are able to stipulate (agree) to all of the necessary terms, you can file your divorce or civil union dissolution action for a reduced filing fee. Stipulation is another word for agreement. This page describes the process for filing for a divorce or civil union dissolution when you agree on all issues before you go to court.
Serving papers means getting a copy of the papers you file with the court to the other party in the case.
You must serve copies of all the papers you file with the court on the other party (or their attorney, if they have one). The rules of service are different depending on where you are in the case. The requirements can be stricter to start a new case than after the case has already started.
Your divorce case will resolve a number of financial issues. These are in addition to child support and financial issues involving your children. In particular, your final divorce order will:
- Divide your financial assets, including pension plans, retirement accounts, and deferred compensation plans
- Determine which of you will pay which debts that you and your spouse have, whether individually or as a couple
- Divide your real and personal property
- Determine whether any spousal support (alimony) will be required
You will need to understand your own finances in going through a divorce. And you will need to understand how the court will approach the financial issues if you and your spouse cannot agree.
The law protects parents who are on active duty in the military. Sometimes the court postpones or suspends hearings until the service member can take part. This is so that service members can devote their full attention to their duties.
If a parent is absent because of active military duty, the judge may make temporary decisions. This includes parental rights and responsibilities, and child support.
The law also protects reservists and members of the National Guard while they are on active duty.
Information about the process to ask to change (modify) an order, and to enforce a final order.
An annulment means that the court has decided your marriage was never valid. You will need to provide a legal reason for the annulment. After the judge reviews the case, the process for preparing and holding a hearing is similar to divorce and parentage cases.
Between July 1, 2000 and September 1, 2009, same-sex couples could join in civil union pursuant to Vermont's civil union law. That law extended almost all of the benefits and responsibilities of civil marriage to same-sex couples joined in civil union. These benefits included the ability to dissolve a civil union in court using the same procedures and laws as for divorce.
When same-sex couples gained access to full civil marriage in 2009, couples could no longer join in civil union. However, existing civil unions remained in effect. Those civil unions continue to be recognized in Vermont, and couples joined in civil union have access to Vermont's family court in the event that they break up.
The Civil Union and Dissolution web page provides information about the legal process to ask to dissolve a civil union if either party is a Vermont resident, and to dissolve a civil union if neither party lives in Vermont.
In a legal separation case a married couple is asking for a court order that divides their property. If they have children, the court order also provides for child support, parental rights and responsibilities, and parent-child contact. The parties are still married to each other and can't marry anyone else.
The process to ask for a legal separation is the same as asking for a divorce, and uses the same forms. Follow the instructions and use the forms on this web page.
To request a copy of your divorce decree, fill out the Request for Access to Court Record form and send it to the court where the case was filed.
You will find information about the process and the request form on the Request for Access to Court Records web page.